World's first biologically powered chip: Columbia Engineering sets world record (VIDEO)
NEW YORK, NY, USA -- Columbia Engineering researchers have, for the first time, harnessed the molecular machinery of living systems to power an integrated circuit from adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the energy currency of life; they achieved this by integrating a conventional solid-state complementary metal-oxide-semiconductor (CMOS) integrated circuit with an artificial lipid bilayer membrane containing ATP-powered ion pumps, opening the door to creating entirely new artificial systems that contain both biological and solid-state components, thus setting the new world record for the World's first biologically powered chip,
according to the World Record Academy.
Photo: Illustration depicting biocell attached to CMOS integrated circuit with membrane containing sodium–potassium pumps in pore. Illustration by: Trevor Finney and Jared Roseman/Columbia Engineering (enlarge photo)
The Guinness World Records' record for the smallest and thinnest chip is measuring 0.15 mm² in area, and 7.5 microns (µm) thick and was set by , Hitachi Ltd. (Japan). Due to the chip being thinner than paper (typically 80-100 microns), one of its wireless applications could be as an intelligent watermark.
Guinness World Records also recognized the world record for the Smallest GPS chip, set by NXP Semiconductors (Netherlands), which announced its GNS7560 GPS receiver chip. Designed to be incorporated into mobile phones and PDAs, it measures just 3.6 x 2.4 x 0.6 mm and consumes less than 15 mW of power. The study, led by Ken Shepard, Lau Family Professor of Electrical Engineering and professor of biomedical engineering at Columbia Engineering, is published online Dec. 7 in Nature Communications.
"In combining a biological electronic device with CMOS, we will be able to create new systems not possible with either technology alone," says Shepard.
"We are excited at the prospect of expanding the palette of active devices that will have new functions, such as harvesting energy from ATP, as was done here, or recognizing specific molecules, giving chips the potential to taste and smell. This was quite a unique new direction for us and it has great potential to give solid-state systems new capabilities with biological components."
While other groups have harvested energy from living systems, Shepard and his team are exploring how to do this at the molecular level, isolating just the desired function and interfacing this with electronics.
"We don't need the whole cell. We just grab the component of the cell that's doing what we want. For this project, we isolated the ATPases because they were the proteins that allowed us to extract energy from ATP," Shepard said.
The ability to build a system that combines the power of solid-state electronics with the capabilities of biological components has great promise.
"You need a bomb-sniffing dog now, but if you can take just the part of the dog that is useful—the molecules that are doing the sensing—we wouldn't need the whole animal," says Shepard.
The work is funded by the Keck Foundation and the Office of Naval Research.