The first nanoscale molecular device capable of sensing and modulating the bioelectrical fields of cells

Conceptual drawing of the new molecular apparatus. For experiments outside the human body (in vitro), the device will nest on the cell membrane: the “reporter” molecule can detect the local electric field when activated by red light; A connected “modifier” molecule can change this electric field when activated by blue light. Credit: Katya Kadyshevskaya at USC

With only 100 atoms, electric fields can be detected and changed

Founded in 1880, the University of Southern California is one of the world’s leading private research universities. It is located in the heart of Los Angeles.

“>USC Viterbi researchers have created the first nano-sized molecular device capable of sensing and altering a cell’s electric field, leading to new possibilities for basic research.

Bioelectricity, the current that flows between our cells, is fundamental to our ability to think, speak, and walk.

In addition, there is a growing body of evidence that recording and altering the bioelectrical fields of cells and tissues plays a vital role in wound healing and even the fight against diseases such as cancer and heart disease.

Now, for the first time, researchers at the USC Viterbi School of Engineering have created a molecular device that can do both: record and manipulate the bioelectric field around it.

The triangular-shaped device is made up of two small connected particles – much smaller than a virus and similar in diameter (function(d, s, id){ var js, fjs = d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0]; if (d.getElementById(id)) return; js = d.createElement(s); js.id = id; js.src = "//connect.facebook.net/en_US/sdk.js#xfbml=1&version=v2.6"; fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js, fjs); }(document, 'script', 'facebook-jssdk'));

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