First `bionic chip’

Having discovered that biological cells can sit on an electronic chip and act as a diode or switch, researchers at the University of California have invented what they believe to be the first `bionic chip’.

Part living tissue, part machine, a biological cell is at the heart of the electronic circuitry. The cell, not visible to the naked eye, sits in the centre of the chip, where it’s kept alive with an infusion of nutrients through the clear tubes. Berkeley’s engineers believe the chip represents a giant step towards bionic circuitry for bodily implants and the treatment of genetic diseases. The chip is expected to appear in commercial applications before the end of the year.