Core Technologies for ChemBioIT Roadmap: Shortlist
4. HYBRID MEMS, MICROFLUIDIC & ELECTRONIC EMBEDDED ChemBioIT
- Microfluidics, LOC and other hybrid chemical/physical technologies
As chemical information processing systems, microfluidics and LOCs are most advanced in the area of diagnostics, with systems currently involving tens of thousands of active elements (such as valves) and massively parallel programmed operation. Fabrication processes typically provide limited quantities, which is reasonable for rare or amplifiable products such as DNA, but generally limiting. Processes allowing self-construction or self-repair are still rare and of limited complexity. Nonetheless major progress is expected in the coming years.
- Fabricated micro- and nanoparticles interacting with ChemBioIT systems
Another large future area of activity in ChemBioIT involves using programmably constructed micro- and nanoparticles as a component in directing the functional behavior of chemical and biological systems.
- Electrokinetic and electrochemical systems
“From ion channel nanopores to electronic chemical systems.” Direct electronic control of chemical processes has been explored in a number of contexts ranging from neural systems and chemical membrane sensors to electronic DNA chips and molecule, nanoparticle and cellular manipulation systems. Coupling micro- and nanoscale- electric fields with complex molecular structures allows an effective modulation of chemical processes either for diagnosis or construction.
- Autonomous chemical sensor and actuator networks
Currently still at the scale of 100s of micrometers, autonomous sensor networks promise to revolutionize a whole range of human and environmental monitoring tasks. If the communication and power problems can be solved efficiently, such networks could also revolutionize distributed fabrication by providing online feedback to direct local fabrication processes.
- Hybrid systems involving cells
Multicellular tissue construction also involves feedback from locally communicating sensors and actuators. The manipulation of cellular systems in LOC integration is also driven by diagnostics, both at the single cell and artificial tissue level. Hybrid cellular systems include silicon coupled neuronal, retinal and olfactory systems and their construction is expected to become increasingly iterative, symmetric and programmable in the coming decade.
- Information processing principles in hybrid systems
Joint local construction and information processing requires many issues in information management to be resolved and research in IT is required to find optimal mechanisms of information encoding for such systems. For example, the translation of information from one representation to another, so that it can be copied and modified in one representation and decoded and deployed in another is a central issue. In living organisms, this kind of problem is epitomized by the translation apparatus employing the genetic code to link replicable molecules with nonreplicable functional proteins.