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Pure Appl. Chem., 2013, Vol. 85, No. 5, pp. 883-901

Published online 2013-04-11

Nanowire nanoelectronics: Building interfaces with tissue and cells at the natural scale of biology*

Tzahi Cohen-Karni1,2* and Charles M. Lieber3

1 Boston Children’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA 02115, USA
2 David H. Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research, Cambridge, MA 02139, USA
3 Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology, School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA 02138, USA

Abstract: The interface between nanoscale electronic devices and biological systems enables interactions at length scales natural to biology, and thus should maximize communication between these two diverse yet complementary systems. Moreover, nanostructures and nanostructured substrates show enhanced coupling to artificial membranes, cells, and tissue. Such nano–bio interfaces offer better sensitivity and spatial resolution as compared to conventional planar structures. In this work, we will report the electrical properties of silicon nanowires (SiNWs) interfaced with embryonic chicken hearts and cultured cardiomyocytes. We developed a scheme that allowed us to manipulate the nanoelectronic to tissue/cell interfaces while monitoring their electrical activity. In addition, by utilizing the bottom-up approach, we extended our work to the subcellular regime, and interfaced cells with the smallest reported device ever and thus exceeded the spatial and temporal resolution limits of other electrical recording techniques. The exceptional synthetic control and flexible assembly of nanowires (NWs) provides powerful tools for fundamental studies and applications in life science, and opens up the potential of merging active transistors with cells such that the distinction between nonliving and living systems is blurred.
*Pure Appl. Chem. 85, 883-956 (2013). A collection of invited, peer-reviewed articles by the winners of the 2012 IUPAC Prize for Young Chemists.