Obtaining biometric data from tissue samples is a key part of medical treatment, from accurate diagnosis of disease and other conditions, to the development of new drugs. Researchers at the Semiconductor Synthetic Biology (SSB) program at Georgia Tech have developed a way to analyze cells using a low-cost CMOS semiconductor chip. The process can be used with living tissues, which means that it could be used to take measurements directly from a human subject.
In addition to using familiar and low-cost CMOS chip fabrication technology, the approach makes it possible to create a matrix of thousands of sensors on a single chip, each targeting a different biometric parameter. The system is also extremely fast, because the data processing circuitry can be included right on the same chip. According to the university press release, this could result in a system that can process samples one thousand times faster than the current methods.
The sensors are self-contained, and don’t need any external support from light sources or other sensors. This technology could make research into new pharmaceuticals much faster and much less expensive. And by being able to quickly identify key factors in an individual subject’s physiology, it could make it practical to create truly customize treatments for specific patients. This sensor technology could eventually be incorporated — at low cost — into wearable Health Tech devices, providing continuous monitoring of a broad range of biometric indicators for disease, inflammation, or other conditions.