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A biochip is a miniaturized laboratory capable of performing thousands of simultaneous biochemical reactions. It is a collection of micro-test sites or microarrays which are arranged on the surface of a solid substrate and it is meant to perform multiple tests at the same time to achieve greater speed and throughput.
A biochip is much like a computer chip but instead of performing a multitude of mathematical operations per second, it performs biological reactions such as decoding genes and finding contaminations in a few seconds.
The heart of the biochip is its sensors which could differ depending on the kind of biochip it is. There are biochips for pH detection, oxygen detection, genetic decoders and many more. The microarray, which is a two-dimensional grid of biosensors, is the most important component of a biochip.
These sensors are deposited on a flat substrate which can either be passive, meaning it does not do anything, or active, meaning it assists the sensor in signal transduction in the form of electronic or electromechanical devices.
Microarrays, and biochips for that matter, are mostly used for DNA analysis. But there are also biochips that are made for proteins, antibodies and chemical compounds which are usually used in conjunction with each other in order to simultaneously analyze a panel of tests using a single sample in order to produce a patient profile.