A leading team of scientist from Harvard University are on the way to develop what science fiction has imagined for decades: cyborgs. Part human, part machine, these entities have integrated circuits that work with the biological tissue, making it stronger and more resilient.
Researchers at the Harvard University have managed to create a circuit that can be molded in a 3D form and allow cells to grow on it. The researchers worked with a 2D substrate on which they added an organic polymer as a mesh that covers the nanowire.
Impressive breakthrough brings us closer to cyborgs
These nanowires are the sensing materials of the entire circuit and along with an array of nanoelectrodes, they make up the nanomesh that senses the electrical impulses sent by the cells. The mesh can “read” the information sent by the cells and pass it along to other equipment that can process it.
After the circuit is complete, the organic polymer is dissolved and the mesh remains intact. These remains can now be molded into 3D objects and introduced into a live tissue. As the scientists said, the process is not that different from the one used in microprocessor fabrication.
Related Article: 3D Printed Houses Might be Closer Than You Thought
The team successfully merged these nano-circuits with heart and nerve cells and were able to retrieve information directly from the cells themselves. Although not a cyborg in the true sense of the word, this is a huge step in nanotechnology and biometrics. In the past, this kind on integration of a biological tissue with an electrical circuit always ended up with damage being done to the tissue, but this technology can offer perfect integration between the two. Professor Charles M. Liebe, head of the team in charge of this project, commented:
“The current methods we have for monitoring or interacting with living systems are limited. We can use electrodes to measure activity in cells or tissue, but that damages them. With this technology, for the first time, we can work at the same scale as the unit of biological system without interrupting it. Ultimately, this is about merging tissue with electronics in a way that it becomes difficult to determine where the tissue ends and the electronics begin.”
How will this technology help us?
The possibilities that this technology opens are practically unlimited. Although for now it can only retrieve information from cells, thus giving pharmaceutical companies a means to test drugs on actual living cells and retrieve a better response and more accurately retrieve information from the affected cells.
In the near future, we could expect nano blood vessels to be something that anyone who suffers from blood vessel disease could benefit from. Scientists managed to create such blood vessels and see different information sent by the cells to the electrical circuit.
What does the future hold?
In the future, we could see bioengineered organs and nanobots that can heal wounds from the inside and cure diseases that today have no cure. This technology promises a bright future indeed for humanity, where diseases are a thing of the past and aging could be dramatically reduces or even stopped.[via] Harvard School of Engineering