Every cell in a living organisms performs a complex array of functions using a vast arsenal of proteins, ion channels, pumps, motors, signaling molecules, and cargo carriers. With all the progress that humankind has made to date in the development of sophisticated machinery and computing capabilities, understanding and communicating with living systems on that level of complexity lags behind. A breakthrough in these capabilities could only come if a way is found to integrate biological components into artificial devices. The central obstacle for this vision of bionanoelectronics is the absence of a versatile interface that facilitates two-way communication between biological and electronic structures. 1D nanomaterials, such as nanotubes and nanowires, open up the possibility of constructing tight interfaces that could enable such bidirectional flow of information. This report discusses the overall progress in building such interfaces on the level of individual proteins and whole cells and focuses on the latest efforts to create device platforms that integrate membrane proteins, channels, and pumps with nanowire bioelectronics.
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