Nanowire sensor has potential for research of cardiac diseases

Service Engineering

For the first time, a sensor that simultaneously detects electrical and mechanical biological reactions in cardiac tissue has been developed by researchers using a suspended nanowire.

Researchers at the University of Massachusetts Amherst (UMass Amherst) have made this advancement, which is thought to hold promise for studies on regenerative medicine, drug testing, and heart disease.

“A sensor that detects electrical and mechanical biological reactions in cardiac tissue has been developed.“

The first author of the paper, PhD student Hongyan Gao, says the invention is "a new tool for improved cardiac studies that has the potential for leading-edge applications in cardiac-disease experiments."

The cell is a fundamental unit of biological activity, and as such, its mechanical and electrical behaviours are two crucial characteristics that reveal cell state and, as a result, are essential for disease diagnosis, tissue repair, and the monitoring of health.

Jun Yao, research team leader, has stated, "A comprehensive assessment of cellular status requires knowledge of both mechanical and electrical properties at the same time". Different sensors are typically used to measure these two properties, and the degree to which the cell's operation is disturbed grows with the number of sensors employed.

The sensor is made of a 3D suspended semiconducting silicon nanowire. The nanowire can patch onto the cell membrane, with its size considerably smaller than a single cell, and 'listen to' cellular activities very carefully. According to UMass Amherst, it also has remarkable abilities to convert 'heard' biomechanical and bioelectrical activity into electrical sensing signals for detection.

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