The four disciplines of physics, chemistry, biotechnology and electronic engineering are working together to develop a platform technology based on the production of DNA devices that respond to electronic and biochemical signals, and that can be integrated onto a silicon chip, opening the way for the future development of devices that can detect and prevent disease in vivo.
DNA molecules have inherent coding capacity, predictable structures and molecular recognition ability. The potential for more closely integrating these biomolecules with semiconductor devices is beginning to be realised and is now a focus for investors in nanobiotechnology. An interdisciplinary team of researchers at the University of Edinburgh are investigating a novel technology based on the idea of using DNA molecules, anchored to a silicon substrate, which switch between two configurations in response to electronic and biochemical signals. The vision is to develop a platform technology for exploiting advances in
genomics and the emerging area of systems biology in medicine. In this rapidly evolving area of ‘biochip medicine’ this research programme has a focus of translating the human genome into intelligent nano-scale devices capable of detecting disease at the molecular level.
This project presents a significant challenge in exploring a wholly novel concept, requiring scientists from fourworld-leading research centres in genomic medicine, electronic
engineering, electrochemistry and optical physics to work together closely in an integrated research team. This team is developing significant expertise in integrating molecular devices with silicon chip technology, including both optical and electrochemical capability.