Swedish researchers have created the elementary building blocks of logic circuits based on ion transistors, capable of transporting both positive and negative ions, as well as bio-molecules. The research team, led by Magnus Berggren, Professor of Organic Electronics at Linköping University, had previously succeeded at creating these ion transporting transistors separately, but now they have succeeded at merging these them into complementary circuits, in a similar way to traditional silicon-based circuits. Their findings have potential implications for a wide range of biochemical and biomedical applications.
Why Chemical Circuits?
One advantage of this invention is that, unlike traditional circuits which carry just electrons, chemical circuits can carry chemical substances with various functions, and hold a prommise of merging artificial signaling devices with biological systems.
"This means that we now have new opportunities to control and regulate the signal paths of cells in the human body". explains Professor Berggren, in a press release. "We can, for example, send out signals to muscle synapses where the signalling system may not work for some reason. We know our chip works with common signalling substances, for example acetylcholine".
The creation of this new type of circuit opens the door to a whole new field in circuit technology, based on ions and molecules instead of electrons. Now, Klas Tybrandt, a PhD student of Magnus Berggren who also worked on the design of the chemical circuit, plans to design more complex circuits, carrying "logic gates" which allow for the implementation of all logical functions typical of a traditional electronic circuit.
Their work is published online on the May 29th issue of the prestigious journal Nature Communications, doi:10.1038/ncomms1869 (2012)