Biochips - An Overview


Microarrays, biosensors, genomic analyses, clinical trials, microreactor.


Biochip is a set of diminished microarrays that are placed on a strong substrate that allows many experiments to be executed at the same time to obtain a high throughput in less time. This device contains millions of sensor elements or biosensors.

These are not electronic devices. Biochip can be considered as a microreactor that can detect a particular analyte like an enzyme, protein, DNA, biological molecule, or antibody. Biochip, a bio-microarray device, has been extensively studied and developed to enable large-scale genomic, proteomic, and functional genomic analyses.

Due to the benefits of low expense, high throughput and miniaturization, this technology has great potential to be a crucial and powerful tool for clinical research, diagnostics, drug development, toxicology studies, and patient selection for clinical trials. Biochip's surface area is no larger than a fingernail and can perform thousands of biological reactions, such as decoding genes, in a few seconds.

Working Principle of a Biochip

The working of biochip mainly includes the following steps.

  • The operator generates a low-power electromagnetic field through radio signals.
  • The fixed biochip gets turned on.
  • The activated chip transmits the identification code reverse to the operator through radio signals.
  • Reader strengthens the received code to change it into digital form and finally exhibits it on LCD.

Components of Biochip


Transponders are of two types, namely active transponder, and passive transponder. This is a passive transponder which means that it doesn’t contain any of its own energy or battery whereas in passive, it is not active until the operator activates it by giving it a low electrical charge. This transponder consists of four parts such as antenna coil, computer microchip, glass capsule, and a tuning capacitor.

  • The computer microchip stores a unique identification (UID) number that ranges from 10 digits to 15 digits long.
  • The antenna coil is very small, primitive and this type of antenna is used to send and receive the signals from the scanner or reader.
  • The charging of the tuning capacitor can be done with a small signal i.e., 1/1000 of a watt which is sent by the operator.
  • The glass capsule holds the antenna coil, capacitor, and microchip, and it is made with a biocompatible material namely soda lime glass.


The reader comprises of a coil namely “exciter” and it forms an electromagnetic field through radio signals. It offers the required energy (<1/1000 of a watt) to activate the biochip. The reader carries a receiving coil for receiving the ID number or transmitted code sent back from the excited implanted biochip.

Types of Biochips

DNA Microarray

A DNA microarray or DNA biochip is a set of tiny DNA spots fixed to a strong surface. Every DNA mark comprises picomoles of genes which are termed as probes. Probe-target hybridization is noticed and counted by recognition of fluorophore or chemiluminescence labeled targets to decide the relative quantity of nucleic acid series in the target.

Microfluidic Chip

Microfluidic biochips or lab-on-a-chip are a choice to usual biochemical laboratories and are transforming several applications like DNA analysis, molecular biology procedures, proteomics which is known as the study of proteins and diagnostic of diseases (clinical pathology). These chips are becoming more complex by using 1000’s of components.

Protein Microarray

A protein microarray or protein chip method is to find out the function of proteins on a large scale. Protein microarray is used to track many proteins in parallel. These are automated, rapid, economical, very sensitive, and consume less quantity of samples. The technology behind this chip was quite easy to develop for DNA microarrays, which have turned into the most generally used microarrays.


A few of the advantages are as follows:

  • The biochip is used to rescue the sick.
  • Very small in size, powerful and faster.
  • Biochips are useful in finding lost people.
  • Biochips can be used to identify people individually.
  • Biochips perform thousands of biological reactions in a few seconds.


Along with advantages there are also disadvantages which are as follows:

  • Biochips are expensive.
  • Biochip raises dangerous problems of individual privacy.
  • Biochip marks the end of human liberty and self-respect.
  • There will be a chance of turning every person into a controlled person.
  • Biochips can be fixed into the human’s body without their interference.


  • By using this chip, we can trace a person or animal anywhere in the world.
  • This chip is used to store and update the information of a person like medical, financial and demographics.
  • A biochip leads to safe E-commerce systems.
  • These chips are effective in restoring the records of medical, cash, passports, etc.
  • The biochip can be applicable in the medical field as a BP sensor, glucose detector, and oxygen sensor.


Biochips are fast, accurate, miniaturized, and can be expected to become economically advantageous attributes that make them analogous to a computer chip. One expects to see an accelerated trend of ultra-miniaturization, perhaps involving entirely novel media, and an increased ability to analyze not only genetic material but also other types of biologic molecules.

The market for biochips and their applications has increased in several core research regions. Since the potential applications are vast, both for research and for clinical use, the potential markets for biochips will be huge, a powerful driving force for their continued development.

Updated on: 18-May-2023


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