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Ionic amplifying circuits inspired by electronics and biology


Integrated circuits are present in all electronic devices, and enable signal amplification, modulation, and relay. Nature uses another type of circuits composed of channels in a cell membrane, which regulate and amplify transport of ions, not electrons and holes as is done in electronic systems. Here we show an abiotic ionic circuit that is inspired by concepts from electronics and biology. The circuit amplifies small ionic signals into ionic outputs, and its operation mimics the electronic Darlington amplifier composed of transistors. The individual transistors are pores equipped with three terminals including a gate that is able to enrich or deplete ions in the pore. The circuits we report function at gate voltages < 1 V, respond to sub-nA gate currents, and offer ion current amplification with a gain up to ~300. Ionic amplifiers are a logical step toward improving chemical and biochemical sensing, separations and amplification, among others.

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