Connecting Biology to Electronics: Molecular Communication via Redox Modality
Biology and electronics are both expert at for accessing, analyzing, and responding to information. Biology uses ions, small molecules, and macromolecules to receive, analyze, store, and transmit information, whereas electronic devices receive input in the form of electromagnetic radiation, process the information using electrons, and then transmit output as electromagnetic waves. Generating the capabilities to connect biology–electronic modalities offers exciting opportunities to shape the future of biosensors, point-of-care medicine, and wearable/implantable devices. Redox reactions offer unique opportunities for bio-device communication that spans the molecular modalities of biology and electrical modality of devices. Here, an approach to search for redox information through an interactive electrochemical probing that is analogous to sonar is adopted. The capabilities of this approach to access global chemical information as well as information of specific redox-active chemical entities are illustrated using recent examples. An example of the use of synthetic biology to recognize external molecular information, process this information through intracellular signal transduction pathways, and generate output responses that can be detected by electrical modalities is also provided. Finally, exciting results in the use of redox reactions to actuate biology are provided to illustrate that synthetic biology offers the potential to guide biological response through electrical cues.