BOND is a multidisciplinary 3 years project sponsored by the European Community under the Seventh Framework Program. The goal is the realization of highly selective and sensitive detection systems based on biological materials as detecting medium. A typical example of this class of devices mimicking mechanisms that are already present in nature is the “bionic nose” where the olfactory receptors present in the mammalian nose membrane are used to sense and discriminate odorant molecules.
The challenges in this research are manifold: for the biologists is the expression of single receptors; for the technologists is the realization of micro systems with functionalized electrodes to bind the receptors still leaving them free enough to fully explicit their functionality; for the electronic engineers is the detection and amplification of the tiny electric signals often coming from only few electrons moving.
In addition to a deep investigation of all the mentioned aspects, the project aims to produce a fully operating sensor prototype based on olfactory receptors and to validate its functionality with few experiments in the medical domain.
The research activity of our Department will be focused on the design and fabrication of the high sensitivity electronic components necessary for the sensor and on the assembly of the system, whose performance cannot at present be met by the solutions known from the available international literature. The Department should indeed deliver silicon chips (Instrument-on-chip) for the measurement of capacitance variation below the attoFarad level and track the current on a milliseconds time base with a precision of few femtoAmperes.