RECEPTRONICS is a research project funded by the European Commission within the VIth Work Program under the Nanotechnologies and Nanosciences priority.
The goal of this project is to develop low-cost, label-free biomolecular detectors/sentinels by integrating concepts and methods from bionanotechnology and microelectronics. More specifically, the project aims to design, fabricate, test and validate a biomorphic hybrid technology by which biological self-assembling structures are interfaced with advanced electronic circuits for signal detection, amplification and conditioning. So doing, we exploit the strength of biotechnology to achieve a very high sensitivity and selectivity, as well as the great potential of micro- and nano-electronics to address system miniaturization, low-power consumption, and low cost. The approach is based on arrays of independent and electrically addressable micro-spots where functional lipid bilayers are self-assembled either in structured micron-scale apertures, or in artificial nanometric pores. Membrane functionalization is determined by embedding bioengineered ion channels or receptors in the lipid bilayers, to achieve highly specific interactions with target molecules. The array is organized so as to couple each spot with a smart and miniaturized electronic interface for the detection, amplification and conditioning of the signals produced by the transmembrane ion fluxes induced by the target molecules. An additional goal of this approach is to boost the overall system performance by means of advanced data processing and storage architectures. An important objective of the proposal will be the evaluation and the assessment of the technology as a valuable platform in health applications with respect to state of the art counterparts. For this purpose, validation exercises will be undertaken within the program, using different kinds of receptors for several applications.