Cell Rover- An intracellular antenna for enabling wireless probing and augmentation of living cells
An intracellular antenna can enable wireless sensing, modulation, and power transfer for
electronic computation within living cells. They could also work in optically opaque environments and in vivo since they communicate using radio frequency waves. However, conventional antennas when miniaturized to sub-mm sizes have very low efficiencies due to ohmic losses and operate at very high frequencies harmful for living systems. Hence, developing an antenna which can fit inside a cell and is suitable for 3D biological systems has remained an unmet challenge. In this talk, I will discuss a new approach to overcome these limitations by using a novel antenna based on magnetostrictive materials.
These antennas which we have named ‘Cell Rovers’ can be fabricated in sub-mm size and convert incident magnetic fields to acoustic waves by the principle of magnetostriction thereby reducing their operating frequency to the low MHz range which is ideal for living systems. Also, they operate using near field inductive coupling and have a large detection range suitable for 3D biological systems. We show intracellular wireless operation of Cell Rovers in fully opaque, Stage VI, Xenopus Laevis oocytes for which real time sensing with conventional technologies is difficult. We also demonstrate the possibility of using Cell Rovers for multiplexing applications to communicate with multiple antennas within the same cell or different cells. This technology can help to integrate wireless sensing, modulation and electronic computation within a living cell and can open up variety of pathways for the fundamental understanding of biology and development of therapeutics.
Baju Chiyezhath Joy is a doctoral student in the Nano-Cybernetic Biotrek Lab at the MIT Media Lab. He completed his master's in Mechanical Engineering at MIT and bachelor's in Mechanical Engineering at IIT Madras. Before joining MIT, he worked as a research intern in the Laboratory of Plasmon-Assisted Nanomanufacturing at Purdue University. His current research combines the fields of micro/nanofabrication, electromagnetics, and bioengineering to explore novel technologies for biosensing, biomodulation, and brain-machine interfacing.