Living Electronics for Biologically-Enhanced Sensing, Computing and Signal Transmission

Project: Research project

Project Details


In addition to serving as chassis for engineering novel biological functions, microorganisms offer new paradigms for transmission of mixed electronic/ionic signals at biotic-abiotic interfaces. Our collaborative group sees a tremendous opportunity where these two research directions intersect: controlling biological charge transport, which underpins all cellular energy acquisition, to tune and probe sensing, computing, and recognition functions encoded by synthetic gene circuits.

To seize this opportunity, we will exploit the genetic tractability and naturally occurring extracellular electron transport pathways of model electric microbes, which have evolved to couple naturally to external surfaces an interaction that can be exploited on micro/nano scale electrodes. For example, the gated source-drain behavior of microbial redox conduction reveals transistor characteristics and electron transport performance superior to abiotic redox polymers. This phenomenon gives rise to a new class of living electronics (livtronics), in which the active electronic elements are the cells themselves.

Our teams vision is to discover the enabling fundamentals of biological electron transport, enhance natural processes with a suite of bioelectronic parts that improve interfaces to the solid-state, and implement microbial electrochemical transistors and living circuit elements capable of reporting external stimuli (environment) or triggering internal functions (genetic circuits). Our fundamental understanding will also be enhanced by development of new, single-molecule characterization techniques to detect single electron transfer events in living electronics.
Effective start/end date8/1/185/31/23


  • DOD-NAVY: Office of Naval Research (ONR): $829,998.00


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