Breakthrough device – Silicon nano robots can be embedded in cell


Nano ‘wiretaps’ that could enter living cells and monitor cellular functions in real-time is a ground breaking device developed by Charles Lieber at Harvard University. Once a far-fetched dream of scientists to post nano-robots within a cell and monitor various cellular mechanisms has now come to life with this development. These nano-transistors are made from silicon nanowires and are smaller than a typical virus.

 More about Nano-wiretaps

  • Silicon nano transistors are hair-pin shaped and are very first semi-conducting devices to be embedded inside the cell membrane to monitor cellular functions
  • They are smaller than a typical virus. The wiretaps developed at Harvard are less than 50 nm in size.
  • They are freely motile inside a cell
  • Cellular activities in real-time (as and when they happen)

A schematic of the nanoprobe inside the cell

How it works

  • This device is non-invasive because the wires have cladding of cell membranes.
  • Because of this external coating the device easily gets integrated to a target cell’s membrane.
  • Wires then naturally penetrate inside the cell
  • Unlike other needle-like insertions this nano wiretap eliminates the risk of harming or rupturing the cell.
  • The device was tested on a chicken heat cells and the transistors recorded changes in the cells’ heartbeat-driving electrical output


of the nanoprobe

Potential applications

  • When connected to an external computer, this device could facilitate more sophisticated analyses of human cells producing electrical impulses, such as beating heart cells.
  • The devices could be used to measure ion flux and electrical signals in the nervous system.
  • They could also be fitted with receptors to monitor fprotein expression and other biochemical changes. This data further could be used for determining the efficacy of new drugs.

Along with non-invasiveness the biggest advantage of fabricating and using these devices is their potential to monitor cellular events in real-time. Getting insight of the smallest units of body has been real challenging and this discovery made at Harvard is the beginning of a whole new era in the arena of nano biotechnology and Health Science.  We would like to hear from our readers of the potential use they can think of this unique development.

Healthy Wiretapping! 

 Source: National Geographic



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