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The smartest materials: the future of nanoelectronics in medicine.

journal contribution
posted on 2012-08-28, 00:00 authored by Itzhaq Cohen-KarniItzhaq Cohen-Karni, Robert Langer, Daniel S. Kohane

Electronics have become central to many aspects of biomedicine, ranging from fundamental biophysical studies of excitable tissues to medical monitoring and electronic implants to restore limb movement. The development of new materials and approaches is needed to enable enhanced tissue integration, interrogation, and stimulation and other functionalities. Nanoscale materials offer many avenues for progress in this respect. New classes of molecular-scale bioelectronic interfaces can be constructed using either one-dimensional nanostructures, such as nanowires and nanotubes, or two-dimensional nanostructures, such as graphene. Nanodevices can create ultrasensitive sensors and can be designed with spatial resolution as fine as the subcellular regime. Structures on the nanoscale can enable the development of engineered tissues within which sensing elements are integrated as closely as the nervous system within native tissues. In addition, the close integration of nanomaterials with cells and tissues will also allow the development of in vitro platforms for basic research or diagnostics. Such lab-on-a-chip systems could, for example, enable testing of the effects of candidate therapeutic molecules on intercellular, single-cell, and even intracellular physiology. Finally, advances in nanoelectronics can lead to extremely sophisticated smart materials with multifunctional capabilities, enabling the spectrum of biomedical possibilities from diagnostic studies to the creation of cyborgs.




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