Part of the Microprocessors glossary:

A biochip is a collection of miniaturized test sites (microarrays) arranged on a solid substrate that permits many tests to be performed at the same time in order to achieve higher throughput and speed. Typically, a biochip's surface area is no larger than a fingernail. Like a computer chip that can perform millions of mathematical operations in one second, a biochip can perform thousands of biological reactions, such as decoding genes, in a few seconds.

A genetic biochip is designed to "freeze" into place the structures of many short strands of DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid), the basic chemical instruction that determines the characteristics of an organism. Effectively, it is used as a kind of "test tube" for real chemical samples. A specially designed microscope can determine where the sample hybridized with DNA strands in the biochip. Biochips helped to dramatically accelerate the identification of the estimated 80,000 genes in human DNA, an ongoing world-wide research collaboration known as the Human Genome Project. The microchip is described as a sort of "word search" function that can quickly sequence DNA.

In addition to genetic applications, the biochip is being used in toxicological, protein, and biochemical research. Biochips can also be used to rapidly detect chemical agents used in biological warfare so that defensive measures can be taken.

This was last updated in November 2006
Posted by: Margaret Rouse

Related Terms

Definitions

  • segmented memory

    - Segmented memory is a system of addressing computer memory, which may be physical or virtual and may be operating in real or protected mode. The segmented memory system was used to expand the 64KB... (WhatIs.com)

  • Intel 8086

    - The Intel 8086 was Intel’s first x86 processor. Released in 1978, the 8086 began the long line of Intel’s most successful architecture, which eventually included the 80286, 80386 and 80486. (WhatIs.com)

  • Intel 80486

    - Intel 80486, also known as i486 or just 486, is the fourth-generation generation Intel x86 microprocessor. The 80486 was capable of over 40 million instructions per second (MIPS) and offered rough... (WhatIs.com)

Glossaries

  • Microprocessors

    - Terms related to microprocessors, including definitions about silicon chips and words and phrases about computer processors.

  • Internet applications

    - This WhatIs.com glossary contains terms related to Internet applications, including definitions about Software as a Service (SaaS) delivery models and words and phrases about web sites, e-commerce ...

Ask a Question About biochipPowered by ITKnowledgeExchange.com

Get answers from your peers on your most technical challenges

Tech TalkComment

Share
Comments

    Results

    Contribute to the conversation

    All fields are required. Comments will appear at the bottom of the article.