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The most important role played by bioelectronics is related to the detection of small biological molecules, i.e. biosensorics. Various principles like electrochemical, optical, immunological and others may be applied. The decisive advantage of microelectronics lies in the perspectives for miniaturization.
Bioreactors are used in multiple ways. For example for the production of food or materials used to build power plants for renewable engergy, for bioengineering or by pharmaceutical industry. The number of installed bioreactors grows with an annual rate of more than 10%.
The surfaces of processed semiconductors become unstable when exposed to bio milieus. In particular, aqueous solutions of electrolytes may easily cause corrosion of inorganic surfaces like Si, SiO2, SiON. Also biological materials degrade upon contact, for which the denaturation of proteins on Si/SiO2 surfaces is a well-known example.
The locally controlled immobilization of biomolecules on semiconductor surfaces will play a central role in future bioelectronics devices. Inscribing 3D structures into microchips is performed nowadays by a combination of thin film deposition and selective removal via photolithography and etching procedures.