Another in this year’s series of studies for the Semiconductor Synthetic Biology roadmap was a meeting in Atlanta that focused on hybrid systems, in which a silicon / electronic device is physically integrated with a biological system.
This is an area that’s largely out of my area of expertise, and so I did a lot more listening than talking. More than anything else, I was struck by how the defining feature of any semiconductor/biological hybrid system is the surface interface between the two different chemistries. There were a lot of different interface technologies discussed, each providing a different valuable modality of connection, such as imaging and capacitance sensing, direct chemical sensing, physical stimulus increasing cell viability, receiving electrical signals from cells, etc. Most of these wonderful proof of concept capabilities, however, are currently mutually incompatible, for the simple reason that you can’t make a surface be all of these things at once—and even where you could in theory, we don’t necessarily have the manufacturing technology to do so yet.
Read Beal's full blog post here.