keywords: biosensors, bioelectronics, nanotechnologies, engineered proteins, GMMOs, synthetic molecules, thin and thick film deposition, coatings

Biosensors and bioelectronics represent different points of view of the same technology which is intended for mass production of hybrid devices based on the so called “smart properties” of natural molecules and technological materials.
Several biomolecules were extensively studied in the past as functional and active interfaces for sensing or bioelectronic purposes. The most common example is represented by biosensors which are obtained by coupling a biomediator with a transducer. Many natural molecules were purified and used for obtaining both enzyme sensors or imunosensors, and, recently, a large spectrum of natural biomolecules were also investigated, including olfactory receptors and oligonucleotides as sensing elements.
Biosensors, biological transduction and bioelectronic information storage are the main interesting research areas which will be commercially exploited in the near future.
At the moment several biomolecules are used for commercially available analytical devices, but the critical factors for their use are mainly related to their stability and  optimal (oriented) immobilisation, without loss of functional properties, on electronic or optical components. Hybrid, synthetic, natural molecules, including their active fragments or modified derivatives, can be used. Genetic engineered biomolecules seem to be a new and powerful approach for obtaining simpler artificial structures with intact or improved properties (i.e. stability, sensitivity and specificity), or with additional functional groups and activities. For example, an His6 tag can be used for oriented and reversible immobilization of engineered single-chain antibody fragments (scFvs), or gene fusions with enzymatic activities may allow analytical detection based on phosphatases. Not only biosensing will take advances from the availability of powerful artificial molecular structures, but also a new generation of m-electronic devices will be certainly affected by this new approach. As a matter of fact, nano-technologies allow increased spatial resolution for electronic and bioelectronic components.
The CoSMiC project at Enea, started on January 2001,  is approaching this research activity with a multidisciplinary group of scientists (chemists, physicists, molecular biologists etc.), with the aim of selection and mass production of artificial molecules which mimic the natural ones, deposition of them on the macro scale by printing techniques or LB films, and, on the m-scale, by laser assisted m-lithography. Oligonucleotides and carbon nanotubes are also investigated for their interesting conducting properties at the nano scale.