Narrator: This is Science Today. University of California, Berkeley scientists have created a microchip that can be used to sound the alarm for a biochemical attack. Yong Huang, who led the study, says this "canary on a chip" uses microelectronics to instantly detect the dying process of a cell.
Huang:The core part of our technology is a microchip that can grow cells on it and also incorporate the cell into this inanimate electrical circuit. As a result we can very precisely monitor or detect the membrane integrity, which is a hallmark of cell death.
Narrator: The idea is, the instant toxins cause a cell to die, an alarm goes off.
Huang: You can easily imagine that this kind of technology could be implemented as a universal cell based toxic detection device, which is very critical in a battle against potential biowarfare or bioterrorism.Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.