Topics: Biology, Biochemistry, Bioengineering, Biomedicine
Light-induced processes at the interface between silicon-based structures and biological ones can be used to remotely control a wide range of biological activities – from single cell calcium signalling to brain activity – without any genetic engineering of the biological systems involved. The new finding could help in the development of “electroceuticals”, in which bioelectric signals could be modulated to treat disease. As well as biomedical applications, the toolkits employed could also be used to study fundamental biophysical processes.
Silicon-based materials are widely used in biological applications. Two examples include silicon nanowire-based transistors for electrically monitoring the signals in cardiomyocytes and bioelectronics implants for the heart. They are rarely found in remotely controlled and interconnect-free device set ups, however. This is because researchers do not fully understand the complex physicochemical processes at play at the interfaces between silicon and biological materials.
Remotely-controlled silicon structures could help treat disease, Belle Dumé, Nanotechweb.org