Scientists at New Jersey Institute of Technology have developed new devices with which they’re looking for electrical signatures of healthy and sick cells. The tiny devices are made using complementary metal oxide semiconductor (CMOS) technology with carbon nanotubes deposited on top. They’re spaced only 6 μm, smaller than most cells, allowing voltage readings to be taken at a very high resolution.
Though the team has yet to specifically identify signatures that can distinguish between different cells, their study of using impedance spectroscopy opens the possibility of identifying pathogens using a simple and cheap methodology to build device that doesn’t involve microfluidics or assays.
From the study abstract in Biosensors and Bioelectronics:
To demonstrate its capability to detect cells, we performed impedance spectroscopy on mobile human embryonic kidney (HEK) cells, neurons cells from mice, and yeast cells (S. pombe). Measurements were performed with and without cells and with and without nanotubes. Nanotubes were found to be crucial to successfully detect the presence of cells. The devices are also able to distinguish between cells with different characteristics.
Article in Biosensors and Bioelectronics: Scalable nano-bioprobes with sub-cellular resolution for cell detection