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Bioelectronics is a field of research in the convergence of biology and electronics.


A ribosome is a biological machine that utilizes protein dynamics

At the first C.E.C. Workshop, in Brussels in November 1991, bioelectronics was defined as 'the use of biological materials and biological architectures for information processing systems and new devices'. Bioelectronics, specifically bio-molecular electronics, were described as 'the research and development of bio-inspired (i.e. self-assembly) inorganic and organic materials and of bio-inspired (i.e. massive parallelism) hardware architectures for the implementation of new information processing systems, sensors and actuators, and for molecular manufacturing down to the atomic scale'.[1] The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), an agency of the United States Department of Commerce, defined bioelectronics in a 2009 report as "the discipline resulting from the convergence of biology and electronics".[2]: 5 

Sources for information about the field include the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) with its Elsevier journal Biosensors and Bioelectronics published since 1990. The journal describes the scope of bioelectronics as seeking to : "... exploit biology in conjunction with electronics in a wider context encompassing, for example, biological fuel cells, bionics and biomaterials for information processing, information storage, electronic components and actuators. A key aspect is the interface between biological materials and micro and nano-electronics."[3]


The first known study of bioelectronics took place in the 18th century when scientist Luigi Galvani applied a voltage to a pair of detached frog legs. The legs moved, sparking the genesis of bioelectronics.[4] Electronics technology has been applied to biology and medicine since the pacemaker was invented and with the medical imaging industry. In 2009, a survey of publications using the term in title or abstract suggested that the center of activity was in Europe (43 percent), followed by Asia (23 percent) and the United States (20 percent).[2]: 6 


Organic bioelectronics is the application of organic electronic material to the field of bioelectronics. Organic materials (i.e. containing carbon) show great promise when it comes to interfacing with biological systems.[5] Current applications focus around neuroscience[6][7] and infection.[8][9]

Conducting polymer coatings, an organic electronic material, shows massive improvement in the technology of materials. It was the most sophisticated form of electrical stimulation. It improved the impedance of electrodes in electrical stimulation, resulting in better recordings and reducing "harmful electrochemical side reactions." Organic Electrochemical Transistors (OECT) were invented in 1984 by Mark Wrighton and colleagues, which had the ability to transport ions. This improved signal-to-noise ratio and gives for low measured impedance. The Organic Electronic Ion Pump (OEIP), a device that could be used to target specific body parts and organs to adhere medicine, was created by Magnuss Berggren.[4]

As one of the few materials well established in CMOS technology, titanium nitride (TiN) turned out as exceptionally stable and well suited for electrode applications in medical implants.[10][11]

Significant applications[edit]

Bioelectronics is used to help improve the lives of people with disabilities and diseases. For example, the glucose monitor is a portable device that allows diabetic patients to control and measure their blood sugar levels.[4] Electrical stimulation used to treat patients with epilepsy, chronic pain, Parkinson's, deafness, Essential Tremor and blindness.[12][13] Magnuss Berggren and colleagues created a variation of his OEIP, the first bioelectronic implant device that was used in a living, free animal for therapeutic reasons. It transmitted electric currents into GABA, an acid. A lack of GABA in the body is a factor in chronic pain. GABA would then be dispersed properly to the damaged nerves, acting as a painkiller.[7] Vagus Nerve Stimulation (VNS) is used to activate the Cholinergic Anti-inflammatory Pathway (CAP) in the vagus nerve, ending in reduced inflammation in patients with diseases like arthritis. Since patients with depression and epilepsy are more vulnerable to having a closed CAP, VNS can aid them as well.[14] At the same time, not all the systems that have electronics used to help improving the lives of people are necessarily bioelectronic devices, but only those which involve an intimate and directly interface of electronics and biological systems.[15]


The improvement of standards and tools to monitor the state of cells at subcellular resolutions is lacking funding and employment. This is a problem because advances in other fields of science are beginning to analyze large cell populations, increasing the need for a device that can monitor cells at such a level of sight. Cells cannot be used in many ways other than their main purpose, like detecting harmful substances. Merging this science with forms of nanotechnology could result in incredibly accurate detection methods. The preserving of human lives like protecting against bioterrorism is the biggest area of work being done in bioelectronics. Governments are starting to demand devices and materials that detect chemical and biological threats. The more the size of the devices decrease, there will be an increase in performance and capabilities.[2]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Nicolini C (1995). "From neural chip and engineered biomolecules to bioelectronic devices: an overview". Biosensors & Bioelectronics. 10 (1–2): 105–27. doi:10.1016/0956-5663(95)96799-5. PMID 7734117.
  2. ^ a b c "A Framework for Bioelectronics: Discovery and Innovation" (PDF). National Institute of Standards and Technology. February 2009. p. 42.
  3. ^ "Biosensors and Bioelectronics". Elsevier.
  4. ^ a b c Rivnay J, Owens RM, Malliaras GG (January 14, 2014). "The Rise of Organic Bioelectronics". Chemistry of Materials. 26 (1): 679–685. doi:10.1021/cm4022003.
  5. ^ Owens R, Kjall P, Richter-Dahlfors A, Cicoira F (September 2013). "Organic bioelectronics - novel applications in biomedicine. Preface". Biochimica et Biophysica Acta. 1830 (9): 4283–5. doi:10.1016/j.bbagen.2013.04.025. PMID 23623969.
  6. ^ Simon DT, Larsson KC, Nilsson D, Burström G, Galter D, Berggren M, Richter-Dahlfors A (September 2015). "An organic electronic biomimetic neuron enables auto-regulated neuromodulation". Biosensors & Bioelectronics. 71: 359–364. doi:10.1016/j.bios.2015.04.058. PMID 25932795.
  7. ^ a b Jonsson A, Song Z, Nilsson D, Meyerson BA, Simon DT, Linderoth B, Berggren M (May 2015). "Therapy using implanted organic bioelectronics". Science Advances. 1 (4): e1500039. Bibcode:2015SciA....1E0039J. doi:10.1126/sciadv.1500039. PMC 4640645. PMID 26601181.
  8. ^ Löffler S, Libberton B, Richter-Dahlfors A (2015). "Organic bioelectronics in infection". Journal of Materials Chemistry B. 3 (25): 4979–4992. doi:10.1039/C5TB00382B. PMID 32262450.
  9. ^ Löffler S, Libberton B, Richter-Dahlfors A (November 2015). "Organic Bioelectronic Tools for Biomedical Applications". Electronics. 4 (4): 879–908. doi:10.3390/electronics4040879.
  10. ^ Hämmerle H, Kobuch K, Kohler K, Nisch W, Sachs H, Stelzle M (February 2002). "Biostability of micro-photodiode arrays for subretinal implantation". Biomaterials. 23 (3): 797–804. doi:10.1016/S0142-9612(01)00185-5. PMID 11771699.
  11. ^ Glogener P, Krause M, Katzer J, Schubert MA, Birkholz M, Bellmann O, Kröger-Koch C, Hammonn HM, Metges CC, Welsch C, Ruff R, Hoffmann KP (2018). "Prolonged corrosion stability of a microchip sensor implant during in vivo exposure". Biosensors. 8 (1): 13. doi:10.3390/bios8010013. PMC 5872061. PMID 29389853.
  12. ^ Simon DT, Gabrielsson EO, Tybrandt K, Berggren M (November 2016). "Organic Bioelectronics: Bridging the Signaling Gap between Biology and Technology". Chemical Reviews. 116 (21): 13009–13041. doi:10.1021/acs.chemrev.6b00146. PMID 27367172.
  13. ^ "DE NOVO CLASSIFICATION REQUEST FOR CALA ONE" (PDF). Retrieved September 11, 2021.
  14. ^ Koopman FA, Schuurman PR, Vervoordeldonk MJ, Tak PP (August 2014). "Vagus nerve stimulation: a new bioelectronics approach to treat rheumatoid arthritis?". Best Practice & Research. Clinical Rheumatology. 28 (4): 625–35. doi:10.1016/j.berh.2014.10.015. PMID 25481554.
  15. ^ Carrara S, Iniewski K (2015). Carrara S, Iniewski K (eds.). Handbook of Bioelectronics. Cambridge University Press. pp. 1–569. doi:10.1017/CBO9781139629539. ISBN 9781139629539.

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