As bioengineering is a representative of combined study that seeks synergic advancement of all fields eventually by sharing all knowledge, principles and technologies of engineering, biology and medicine, the field of bioelectronics can be defined as a field of study that applies principles and technologies of electronics engineering into biomedical science and applies the principles of vital phenomenon in the human body or other living organisms into solving problems of electronics engineering. The detailed subjects of electronics engineering including electronic circuits, electronic devices, electromagnetism, signal processing, system modeling and interpretation, communication theory and semiconductor engineering can all be the subject of bioelectronics.
1. Medical Electronics
Since 1958, when the research field that introduced electronics engineering technology into medicine was first advocated to be named medical electronics in an international conference in Paris, various medical equipment based on electronics engineering have been developed and are being used in clinical medicine according to the rapid development of electronics engineering. Thus, medical electronics is a field that designs, plans, produces and evaluates numerous types of electronic equipment that is being used for diagnosis and treatment of diseases, assistance and support for obstacles. One of the most well known field is medical imaging, in which medical equipment for digital X-ray, CT(computerized tomography), MRI(magnetic resonance imaging), ultrasonography, PET(positron emission tomography), etc. have been developed and are being used in clinical practice. In other various fields of biomedical instrumentation, there is electrocardiograph, electroencephalograph, and electromyography that measures bioelectric signals. Also various medical equipments based on physical sensors, chemical sensors and biosensors are being developed and used. There are numerous types of these such as blood pressure gauge, pulse oximeter, electrical stimulator, electrosurgical unit, laser, hemanalysis equipment and so on.
2. Electronics for Biological Research
In biological research for understanding vital phenomenon, application of electromagnetics which is a principle of electronics engineering has created a new research field like bioelectromagnetism or biophotonics. The most actively applied field recently is the application of microfabrication through photo lithography that is being used in semiconductor device manufacturing processes. This type of micromachining was first applied successfully into the MEMS(Microelectromechanical System), which uses this technology to make a disposable pressure sensor that real-time monitors the patient's blood pressure in the operating room. Applying this MEMS technology into biology is called BioMEMS. In this field, biochip research is being carried out actively trying to produce ultrastructures of micrometer level by using slide glasses or transparent polymer(PDMS is the representative material) other than silicon that is used in making semiconductor devices, and use them in biological research. These ultrastructures provide a new research platform that is appropriate to carry out biological research of single cell or smaller molecular level. Also this system is used in researches realizing the analysis of various clinical materials on the biochip, which is called Lab-on-a-chip, meaning the laboratory was realized on a chip, or it is called μTAS(Micro Total Analysis System), meaning the entire analysis process was realized on a chip.
3. Biomolecular Electronics
Previous electronics engineering has developed focusing on semiconductor devices with silicon as the main material, but due to the limit of technology development up to now, there is interest and research being carried out for electronic devices based on new material. As an attempt to this, research about the possibility of electronic device using biomolecules is being tried. Some examples of this include optic devices or optic memory devices using bacteriorhodopsin, quantum computing using DNA(Deoxyribonucleic acid), memory devices using self-assembly molecule, realizing switching devices using bistable molecules.