Bioelectronics is a multidisciplinary field which integrates biology and electronics for diagnostic and therapeutic healthcare treatments. The regulatory activities of the nervous system can be monitored and controlled with bioelectronic technologies that affect specific molecular processes in neural signaling. Bioelectronic medicine manages a broad spectrum of diseases and disabilities, such as blindness, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, inflammatory and neurodegenerative diseases, and paralysis.
Bioelectronic devices function by stimulating, regulating, or even blocking specific electronic communication signals between the brain and bodily functions for personalized medical treatment. Common bioelectronic devices include cardiac pacemakers that modulate heart rate and robotic prostheses that emulate human movement. Biosensors, such as blood glucose monitors, detect enzymes, pathogens, or toxic substances. Wearable bioelectronic devices are capable of monitoring vital signs, detecting biomarkers, or harvesting epidermal energy. State-of-the-art bioelectronic implants can be powered without wires or batteries, and are minimally invasive, ingestible, and fully resorbable depending on the application.
Innovations in material design and device configurations have significantly improved the sensitivity and biocompatibility of bioelectronics. Soft, lightweight and ultra-thin materials, such as carbon nanotubes, graphene and other 2D nanomaterials, conductive polymers, gold nanoparticles, and quantum dots, are well suited for bioelectronic applications due to their excellent conductivity, flexibility, and miniature size.
For more information, read our Material Matters™ issue dedicated to bioelectronics.