Research at the interface between nanoscience and biology has the potential to produce breakthroughs in fundamental science and lead to revolutionary technologies. The Lieber group is focused on defining the rich interface between nanoelectronics and life science from sensing for disease detection, to single cell through whole organism level neuroscience, and the development of novel hybrid or cyborg tissues. In all of this work, we exploit unique designed nanowire structures, comparable in size to biological nanostructures involved in communication, to blur the distinction between man-made and living systems. Areas of current research interest include the following:
- Nanoelectronic probes for electrical recording. We are pursuing a broad range of studies focused on development of novel nanowire nanoelectronic devices for electrical recording from cells and tissue in two and three dimensions. A general theme in this work is to exploit unique design, synthesis and properties of nanowires to develop nanoelectronic devices, device arrays, 3D probes and probe arrays that make dramatic advances in capabilities for high spatial resolution recording of electrical and/or biochemical signals from individual cells and subcellular structures, 3D cell networks within acute tissue slices, and in-vivo recording from simple organisms through animals.
- Cyborg tissue. We are pursuing the development of novel biomaterials that seamlessly integrate nanoelectronic device arrays with synthetic tissue. This highly interdisciplinary work involves implementation of new ideas for 3D nanodevice arrays interconnected on the scale of natural tissue scaffolds, together with 3D cell culture and advanced measurement techniques to create tissue that is ‘innervated’ over many length scales.
- Biosensing. We are focused on studies designed to push the limits of ultrasensitive nanowire nanoelectronic sensors. Current interests include defining the limits of charge sensitivity for single-molecule detection and dynamics as well as overcoming issues associated with high-sensitivity detection in physiological conditions.