An intracellular antenna can open up unprecedented opportunities for fundamental understanding of biology as well as diagnostics and therapeutics. However, due to fundamental limitations in the miniaturization of conventional antennas developing an antenna that can fit inside a cell and can be possibly extended for use in vivo remains an unmet challenge. Here, we present the Cell Rover, a novel antenna that works on the principle of magnetostriction, can be operated wirelessly from inside a living cell, and can be extended for use in 3D biological systems. It is sub-mm in size and converts incident magnetic energy to acoustic waves, thereby reducing its frequency of operation to the low MHz range which is ideal for living systems. We demonstrate the wireless operation of Cell Rovers in fully opaque, stage VI Xenopus oocytes, for which real-time sensing with conventional technologies is challenging. A gradient magnetic field is used for intracellular injection of Cell Rovers to ensure cell viability following which wireless detection is shown using a gradiometer coil assembly. Cell Rovers with different operating frequencies are also shown to enable multiplexing in cells by uniquely addressing antennas in different cells or tuning to multiple antennas within the same cell. This technology forms the basis for the integration of real-time sensing, modulation as well as power transfer for in-cell nanoelectronic computing and can possibly bring the versatility of information technology inside a living cell.
*This study was supported by the MIT Media Lab start-up funding and NIH R00 Pathway to Independence Award R00GM126277-05.