SemiSynBio: Redox-enabled Bio-Electronics for Molecular Communication and Memory (RE- BIONICS) 
Agency: National Science Foundation and Semiconductor Research Corporation 
Sponsor Award Number: ECCS-1807604 (NSF) and 2843 (SRC)  
Co-PI: Massimiliano Pierobon1
PI: William E. Bentley2
Co-PI: Gregory F. Payne3
Co-PI: Reza Ghodssi4
Start/End Dates: 10/01/2018 - 09/30/2021 (expected)

1Department of Computer Science and Engineering, University of Nebraska-Lincoln
2Fischell Department of Bioengineering, University of Maryland, College Park
3Institute for Bioscience & Biotechnolgy Research, University of Maryland, College Park
4Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering and the Institute for Systems Research, University of Maryland, College Park

The goal of the RE-BIONICS project (Redox-enabled Bio-Electronics based on Molecular Communication) is to create first-of-kind bioelectronics devices that will mediate the rapid and facile information exchange between biology and electronics. RE-BIONICS project uses biology’s electron-based signaling modality (redox signaling) to enable the exchange of information between the electrical and the biochemical environments. These devices will have the potential to transform healthcare, enabling tele-monitoring and remote/autonomous drug delivery and facilitating environmental monitoring in agriculture and cyber-defense where connecting biological phenomena with electronics are important. The technical underpinnings of this work recognize that microelectronic devices depend on electrons for information processing while biology depends on molecules (e.g., insulin, antibodies). These systems are not intrinsically compatible as there are no free electrons in biology that could be transmitted to biological wires and control cell-based electronic circuits. Instead, biohybrid devices are envisioned that transmit information across this electron-molecule divide. New interfaces are needed that accept molecules from biology and create electrons for devices and the reverse. Such integrated systems designed and constructed within RE-BIONICS will be capable of this bidirectional communication for memory and computation. The project will build the components and information theory needed to construct biohybrid devices that could eventually be embedded within a biological system and provide electronic control.

In addition to building capabilities for designing and constructing completely new biodevices, a most important aspect of this work is that it will bring together researchers and stakeholders from many disciplines, including biology, chemistry, materials science, and computer, electrical, chemical, and bioengineering. The project builds on the interdisciplinary nature of the project with Research Team from computer science, electrical engineering and bioengineering. The research thrusts span computer science and information theory, microelectromechanical systems, biofabrication and redox biology, and synthetic biology.

MBiTe Lab students on the project: Karthik Reddy Gorla, Tyler Barker