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Peter Grünberg Institute / Institute of Complex Systems

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Nanotools for Cell-Chip Communication

Research: Nanotools for Cell-Chip Communication

We develop and investigate chip-based devices for bioelectronic applications using nanofabrication technologies. Specifically, we are interested in establishing tools for the communication with cells and cellular networks. To this end we investigate electrochemical techniques, which benefit from fast diffusion processes on the nanometer scale. Our goal is to develop biohybrid systems based on these tools to study the release of neurotransmitters. Further, we explore functional interfaces for cell-chip coupling using electrical, chemical, and optical techniques in a fluidic environment, thus providing a platform for neuroelectronic hybrids and on-chip neuroscience experiments.

Nanocavity redox cycling sensor

On-chip electrochemical techniques

In this project, we investigate chip-based electrochemical techniques for real-time detection of biomolecules such as neurotransmitters. One of our most sensitive approaches is based on nanoscaled redox cycling, the repetitive oxidation and reduction of molecules between two closely spaced electrodes, which amplifies the electrochemical signal by orders of magnitudes.

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Nanostructured Interfaces

Nanostructured Interfaces

Nanotechnology fabrication processes offer the possibility of designing functional interfaces for cell-chip connections. We develop such interfaces for localized chemical stimulation of cells as well as on-chip biosensors using template-based nanofabrication methods.

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Cross section of cell-chip interface

Cell-chip coupling

Development of devices for extracellular recording and stimulation of electrically active cells is of great interest for fundamental science as well as applications, e.g. neuroprosthetics. Our work focuses on the development of functional interfaces with the capability of recording action potentials from individual cells at highly localized resolution.

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On-chip magnetic actuation

On-chip magnetic actuation

In this project we develop a platform for on-chip magnetic actuation of magnetic particles with a resolution in the low micrometer regime. Due to their high flexibility considering surface chemistry and dimension, magnetic micro- and nanoparticles have become a versatile tool for labeling, actuation and delivery on the micron and submicron scale. The goal is to use magnetic actuation for delivery to or chemical stimulation of individual cells in lab-on-a-chip approaches.

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Printed Biosensors

Printed biosensors

Standard micro- and nanofabrication offers superior resolution and established processes, which, however, come at a high cost. In our group we develop novel printing materials and methods to come up with a compromise between cost and quality. For example, ink-jet printing offers resolution, which is sufficient for many practical applications of biosensors. So far, we have been able to develop our own functional inks and fabricate fully printed electrochemical devices.

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