First Integrated Chemical Circuits Developed Using Ion Transistors


An integrated chemical chip uses versatile chemical substances as charge carriers, offering researchers the ability to regulate signal pathways in human cells.

At the Organic Electronic research group at Linköping University in Sweden, researchers have been working on ways of creating chemical circuits. They were previously able to develop ion transistors to transport both positive and negative ions as well as biomolecules. Now, Klas Tybrandt has succeeded in combining both transistor types into complementary circuits, which are similar to silicon-based electronics.

Tybrandt and his team published their findings in the journal Nature Communications. The so-called integrated chemical chip uses a charge carrier that consists of chemical substances with various functions. This means that researchers now have the opportunity to control and regulate the signal paths of cells in the human body.


The scientists can now send out signals to muscle synapses where the signaling system no longer works. The chip works with acetylcholine and other common signaling substances. The development of ion transistors began three years ago by Tybrandt and Magnus Berggren, the leader of the research group.

These chemical chips contain logic gates that function like the NAND gates that allow for the construction of silicon-based chips. This allows researchers to create circuits based on technology using ions and molecules instead of electrons.

This new technology could have vast-ranging implications for biochemical and biomedical applications. They promise to integrate artificial signaling devices within biological systems. The produced logic gates based on ion transistors can operate at the physiological salt concentrations necessary to be compatible with living organisms.

Reference: “Logic gates based on ion transistors” by Klas Tybrandt, Robert Forchheimer and Magnus Berggren, 29 May 2012, Nature Communications.
DOI: 10.1038/ncomms1869

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