INTEGRATION OF CMOS TECHNOLOGY INTO LAB-ON-CHIP SYSTEMS APPLIED TO THE DEVELOPMENT OF A BIOELECTRONIC NOSE
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This work addresses the development of a lab-on-a-chip (LOC) system for olfactory sensing. The method of sensing employed is cell-based, utilizing living cells to sense stimuli that are otherwise not easily sensed using conventional transduction techniques. Cells have evolved over millions of years to be exquisitely sensitive to their environment, with certain types of cells producing electrical signals in response to stimuli. The core device that is introduced here is comprised of living olfactory sensory neurons (OSNs) on top of a complementary metal-oxide-semiconductor (CMOS) integrated circuit (IC). This hybrid bioelectronic approach to sensing leverages the sensitivity of OSNs with the electronic signal processing capability of modern ICs.
Intimately combining electronics with biology presents a number of unique challenges to integration that arise from the disparate requirements of the two separate domains. Fundamentally the obstacles arise from the facts that electronic devices are designed to work in dry environments while biology requires not only a wet environment, but also one that is precisely controlled and non-toxic. Design and modeling of such heterogeneously integrated systems is complicated by the lack of tools that can address the multiple domains and techniques required for integration, namely IC design, fluidics, packaging, and microfabrication, and cell culture. There also arises the issue of how to handle the vast amount of data that can be generated by such systems, and specifically how to efficiently identify signals of interest and communicate them off-chip.
The primary contributions of this work are the development of a new packaging scheme for integration of CMOS ICs into fluidic LOC systems, a methodology for cross-coupled multi-domain iterative modeling of heterogeneously integrated systems, demonstration of a proof-of-concept bioelectronic olfactory sensor, and a novel event-based technique to minimize the bandwidth required to communicate the information contained in bio-potential signals produced by dense arrays of electrically active cells.