Biochip

From ArticleWorld


The biochips is the result of the merging of two fields. Biotechnologists have always been interested in the biochemical processes occurring inside cells and new technologies to accomplish these goals. The semiconductor industry has been working separately to perfecting the art of microminiaturization. The combination of these two have resulted in the development of the biochip, which is essentially, the tool for the determination of the chemical processes in the cell, but packaged in a more compact fashion. These minute chips can perform anywhere from hundreds to thousands of reactions simultaneously, allowing for the faster analysis of the biological materials, for the quick detection of diseases or even bioterrorism agents.

History

The first step to the development of the biochip initiated with the use of sensor technology and the development of the portable glass pH electrode. After the discovery of the structure of DNA technology was needed for DNA sensing. This was accomplished with the development of the polymerase chain reaction, which amplified DNA concentrations and followed by the labeling of DNA with florescent tags. Continuing rapid advances in technology led up to the focus on the mass production of biochips in the 1990's.

Biochip platforms

Biochips are themselves made up of several components that work together to produce results. A biochip or biochip platform, as it is called, is made up of the sensing component or chip, the transducer, the signal processor and the output device. After the sensing of the biological analyte, the transducer translates this information into a format which is comprehendible to a computer. Following this, further analysis is carried out and a readable output is produced.

Microarrays

The microarray consists of a two-dimensional grid of biosensors. These sensors are the core component of a biochip platform. The sensors are attached to a flat substrate covalently. The assembly of microarrays is often quite complicated and the cost associated can often determine the success of the biochip. Each sensor has to be placed in a specific position on the substrate and this causes the associated high manufacturing costs. Random fabrication is another method where the sensors are placed in arbitrary positions but this method has limited applications.