Team Members: Fatima Aghlmand, Saransh Sharma
The development of a novel “Cell-Silicon” system, which fuses silicon chip technology with live bacterial biosensors, presents groundbreaking possibilities in the realms of smart medicine and environmental monitoring. This integrated approach aims to harness the unique capabilities of both silicon-based and biological sensing elements, thereby opening the door to a host of innovative applications.
A critical aspect of such systems is the necessity for on-chip optical filtering, particularly within the wavelength range that aligns with fluorescent proteins. These proteins are commonly employed as signal reporters in bacterial biosensors due to their ability to produce easily detectable fluorescence. However, a significant challenge arises from the fact that the operational range of existing technologies often fails to effectively detect signals emitted by these fluorescent proteins.
Addressing this challenge, our work introduces a fully integrated fluorescence sensor fabricated using 65nm standard Complementary Metal-Oxide-Semiconductor (CMOS) technology. This sensor is a comprehensive solution, incorporating on-chip bandpass optical filters, photodiodes, and dedicated processing circuitry. The design and implementation of this sensor enable it to precisely measure the dynamic fluorescent signals as well as monitor the growth patterns of living Escherichia coli (E. coli) bacterial cells.
One of the most innovative aspects of this research is the utilization of optogenetic techniques. By employing these methods, we have successfully demonstrated a proof of concept for establishing bidirectional communication between living cells and the CMOS chip. This breakthrough indicates the potential for not only monitoring but also controlling biological processes in real-time through electronic interfaces.
The significance of this integrated “Cell-Silicon” system extends far beyond its immediate applications. It lays the groundwork for the development of advanced closed-loop therapeutic solutions, wherein real-time biological feedback can inform and adjust treatment protocols. This technology heralds a new era in personalized medicine, where treatments can be dynamically tailored based on the patient’s biological responses, potentially improving efficacy and reducing side effects. Additionally, in environmental monitoring, this system could provide real-time, on-site analysis of biological markers, offering rapid and accurate assessments of environmental health. The possibilities are vast, and this innovative fusion of biological and silicon-based sensing technologies represents a critical step forward in the intersection of biotechnology and electronics.
- F. Aghimand, C. Hu, S. Sharma, K. K. Pochana, R. M. Murray and A. Emami, “A 65nm CMOS Living-Cell Dynamic Fluorescence Sensor with 1.05fA Sensitivity at 600/700nm Wavelengths,” 2023 IEEE International Solid-State Circuits Conference (ISSCC), San Francisco, CA, USA, 2023, pp. 312-314, doi: 10.1109/ISSCC42615.2023.10067325.
- F. Aghlmand, C. Y. Hu, S. Sharma, K. Pochana, R. M. Murray and A. Emami, “A 65-nm CMOS Fluorescence Sensor for Dynamic Monitoring of Living Cells“, in IEEE Journal of Solid-State Circuits, vol. 58, no. 11, pp. 3003-3019, Nov. 2023, doi: 10.1109/JSSC.2023.3308853.