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Inside the Lab Omics, Technology and innovation

“Pop” Goes the Sensor

Caption: SEM image of the “pop-up” sensors that directly measure speed and movement of electrical signals inside heart cells. Credit: Yue Gu.

Engineers have developed a tiny pop-up sensor that directly measures the electrical activity of cardiac muscle tissue at the single-cell level (1). “With this device, we can zoom in to the cellular level and get a very high-resolution picture of what’s going on in the heart; we can see which cells are malfunctioning, which parts are not synchronized with the others, and pinpoint where the signal is weak,” said senior author Sheng Xu (2).

The device’s 3D array of microscopic field effect transistors (FET) makes it unique – allowing it to penetrate cells without damaging them. “It can have two FET sensors penetrate inside one cell – with minimal invasiveness – and allow us to see which way a signal propagates and how fast it goes,” said first author Yue Gu (2). “This detailed information about signal transportation within a single cell has so far been unknown.”

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  1. Yue Gu et al., Nat Nanotechnol, [Online ahead of print] (2021). PMID: 34949774.
  2. Liezel Labios (2021). Available at: https://bit.ly/33nK19o.
About the Author
Liv Gaskill

During my undergraduate degree in psychology and Master’s in neuroimaging for clinical and cognitive neuroscience, I realized the tasks my classmates found tedious – writing essays, editing, proofreading – were the ones that gave me the greatest satisfaction. I quickly gathered that rambling on about science in the bar wasn’t exactly riveting for my non-scientist friends, so my thoughts turned to a career in science writing. At Texere, I get to craft science into stories, interact with international experts, and engage with readers who love science just as much as I do.

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