Whole-cell bio-chips for functional sensing integrate living cells on miniaturized platforms made by microsystem- technologies (MST). The cells are integrated, deposited or immersed in a media which is in contact with the chip. The cells behavior is monitored via electrical, electrochemical or optical methods. In this paper we describe such whole-cell biochips where the signal is generated due to the genetic response of the cells. The solid-state platform hosts the biological component, i.e. the living cells, and integrates all the required micro-system technologies, i.e. the microelectronics, micro-electro optics, micro-electro or magneto mechanics and micro-fluidics. The genetic response of the cells expresses proteins that generate: a. light by photo-luminescence or bioluminescence, b. electrochemical signal by interaction with a substrate, or c. change in the cell impedance. The cell response is detected by a front end unit that converts it to current or voltage amplifies and filters it. The resultant signal is analyzed and stored for further processing. In this paper we describe three examples of whole-cell bio chips, photo-luminescent, bioluminescent and electrochemical, which are based on the genetic response of genetically modified E. coli microbes integrated on a micro-fluidics MEMS platform. We describe the chip outline as well as the basic modeling scheme of such sensors. We discuss the highlights and problems of such system, from the point of view of micro-system-technology.
Keywords: Bio-chips, micro system technology (MST), biosensors