Research Topic

Smart Dust: Micro and Nano Scale Devices for Highly-Integrated Localized and Distributed Smart Systems for Precision and Personalized Medicine

About this Research Topic

Research on wearable and implantable devices is nowadays well-established, and its application and devices are part of our daily routines. Historically, we have moved from an overall macro monitoring and diagnostic approach, where only the effects of underlying processes are captured as a whole or indirectly, to a micro one, where biological and chemical processes are individually locally monitored (and eventually controlled).
Some example of actual applications, both in the research and industrial contexts, that could benefit from next research steps are:
- in-vivo or ex-vivo distributed monitoring and control of biological systems (e.g., neural monitoring and stimulation – Neural Dust –, metabolism monitoring – Body Dust – );
- in-situ targeted measures of metabolites or disease biomarkers or viruses in biological samples (e.g., in blood, saliva, urine, or stool)
- in-vivo and in-vitro locally monitoring of treatment effectiveness and pharmacokinetics (e.g., chemotherapeutic agents for cancer)
- distributed monitoring of target agents in a substance (e.g., in bioreactors for pharmacological drug production)
- distributed detection of targeted biomarkers for allergens, harmful bacteria or viruses, for ensuring the quality and safety of substances during their entire life-cycle (e.g., pharmacological or food production, quality control, and monitoring).
All of them have in common the ideal match in size between autonomous engineered electronic circuits and systems, nanostructured sensors, and biological entities.
To this end, new bioelectronic devices (biochips) are needed: even if the idea of shrinking down to dust-sized devices has been conceived 20 years ago, only four years ago the first real device was applied in the body of a mammalian, and nowadays many challenges are still there to be faced. We advocate that it is not only a matter of simply reducing size, performances, figures-of-merit of (some) order of magnitude while relying on already well-established designs and solutions, but new co-design paradigms, architectures, electronic circuits, bio-CMOS interfaces, and nanosensors need to be investigated and developed. In order to support new and emerging applications in this regard (e.g., Neural Dust, Body Dust), the following challenges need to be taken into account and addressed:
• System and architectural level: moving from layering and partitioning to co-design approaches, moving from single-device proof-of-concept setups to networked, distributed, autonomous systems;
• Design and development level: high integration and co-design of bio/CMOS interfaces, data acquisition, and processing, energy provisioning and management, communication and networking;
• Validation and verification, quality control and assurance level: continuous monitoring and life-cycle management of the devices, biosafety, biocompatibility, reliability and performance over time;
• Medical (application) level: from micro-level monitoring to medical (macro-level) diagnosis, data analysis and information synthesis.
From a research perspective, specific topics of interest are (but not limited to):
• Design and fabrication of nanobiosensors, bio/CMOS interfaces, NEMS/MEMS;
• CMOS read-out circuits and systems for ultra-low-power bio-sensing;
• Energy provisioning, power transmission and management for wireless miniaturized devices;
• Wireless communication, scalable network architectures for distributed monitoring systems;
• Device integration and packaging, biocompatibility, biosafety.
By collecting research papers aligned with these themes, our aim is to advance and improve the state of the art in highly-integrated localized and distributed smart systems for bio-sensing (Smart Dust), providing new opportunities, approaches, and solutions to next-generation precision and personalized medicine at the micro and nanoscale.


Keywords: Bio-Inspired Circuits and Systems, Diagnostic Telemetry, Lab-on-CMOS, Nanobioelectronics, Quality-Energy Trade-Off in CMOS IC Design, Wireless Powered Communication Networks


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

Research on wearable and implantable devices is nowadays well-established, and its application and devices are part of our daily routines. Historically, we have moved from an overall macro monitoring and diagnostic approach, where only the effects of underlying processes are captured as a whole or indirectly, to a micro one, where biological and chemical processes are individually locally monitored (and eventually controlled).
Some example of actual applications, both in the research and industrial contexts, that could benefit from next research steps are:
- in-vivo or ex-vivo distributed monitoring and control of biological systems (e.g., neural monitoring and stimulation – Neural Dust –, metabolism monitoring – Body Dust – );
- in-situ targeted measures of metabolites or disease biomarkers or viruses in biological samples (e.g., in blood, saliva, urine, or stool)
- in-vivo and in-vitro locally monitoring of treatment effectiveness and pharmacokinetics (e.g., chemotherapeutic agents for cancer)
- distributed monitoring of target agents in a substance (e.g., in bioreactors for pharmacological drug production)
- distributed detection of targeted biomarkers for allergens, harmful bacteria or viruses, for ensuring the quality and safety of substances during their entire life-cycle (e.g., pharmacological or food production, quality control, and monitoring).
All of them have in common the ideal match in size between autonomous engineered electronic circuits and systems, nanostructured sensors, and biological entities.
To this end, new bioelectronic devices (biochips) are needed: even if the idea of shrinking down to dust-sized devices has been conceived 20 years ago, only four years ago the first real device was applied in the body of a mammalian, and nowadays many challenges are still there to be faced. We advocate that it is not only a matter of simply reducing size, performances, figures-of-merit of (some) order of magnitude while relying on already well-established designs and solutions, but new co-design paradigms, architectures, electronic circuits, bio-CMOS interfaces, and nanosensors need to be investigated and developed. In order to support new and emerging applications in this regard (e.g., Neural Dust, Body Dust), the following challenges need to be taken into account and addressed:
• System and architectural level: moving from layering and partitioning to co-design approaches, moving from single-device proof-of-concept setups to networked, distributed, autonomous systems;
• Design and development level: high integration and co-design of bio/CMOS interfaces, data acquisition, and processing, energy provisioning and management, communication and networking;
• Validation and verification, quality control and assurance level: continuous monitoring and life-cycle management of the devices, biosafety, biocompatibility, reliability and performance over time;
• Medical (application) level: from micro-level monitoring to medical (macro-level) diagnosis, data analysis and information synthesis.
From a research perspective, specific topics of interest are (but not limited to):
• Design and fabrication of nanobiosensors, bio/CMOS interfaces, NEMS/MEMS;
• CMOS read-out circuits and systems for ultra-low-power bio-sensing;
• Energy provisioning, power transmission and management for wireless miniaturized devices;
• Wireless communication, scalable network architectures for distributed monitoring systems;
• Device integration and packaging, biocompatibility, biosafety.
By collecting research papers aligned with these themes, our aim is to advance and improve the state of the art in highly-integrated localized and distributed smart systems for bio-sensing (Smart Dust), providing new opportunities, approaches, and solutions to next-generation precision and personalized medicine at the micro and nanoscale.


Keywords: Bio-Inspired Circuits and Systems, Diagnostic Telemetry, Lab-on-CMOS, Nanobioelectronics, Quality-Energy Trade-Off in CMOS IC Design, Wireless Powered Communication Networks


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

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Submission Deadlines

30 September 2021 Manuscript

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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Topic Editors

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Submission Deadlines

30 September 2021 Manuscript

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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