Bioprocess Engineering
Joint Lab Bioelectronics


Microelectronics and biotechnology are performing a convergence process bringing both disciplines closer together. The process is mainly fed upon the development of methods aiming at the understanding and manipulation of nano-scaled objects. The new discipline of bioelectronics has evolved from this convergence dealing with the integration of electronic systems in biological environments and the study of interactions between both material worlds. One major trend is related to biosensors, where the progressive miniaturization enabled the introduction of micro-sensors into biological systems.

The Joint Lab Bioelectronics was founded by TU Berlin and the IHP – innovations for high performance microelectronics in order to deal with this recent development.

Frequent reports on the work of the JLB can be followed via our Mastodon channel 
(for an explanation on how Mastodon works read this)



Subjecting a biological cell in solution to an inhomogeneous electrical field may elicit a dipole moment that can interact with the field.

Wearables and Implants

Microelectronic systems become increasingly integrated into the human body. The starting point were cardiac implants such as pacemakers and cochlear implants. But many new systems for monitoring the body's own metabolites, technical aids or actuators for pain treatment via peripheral nerve stimulation are under development.

Photonic Biosensors

Within the framework of a BMBF-funded project, an optical biosensor chip is being developed at the Joint Lab, in which the detection is performed by a microring resonator.

Internet Privacy

The Internet today is characterized by massive interception of private data of its users. For medical Internet-of-things systems, on the other hand, high technical hurdles will have to be implemented to protect the patients' sensitive health data from unauthorized access.

Monitoring of Bioprocesses

The monitoring of small biomolecules represents an important task in the control of bioprocesses. Despite this importance, even after decades of research and development, problems of reproducibility, sensor drift and receptor stability are still being struggled with.

Sustainable digitization

The information and communication technologies show a growing demand for energy. If the internet were a country, it would have the sixth largest electricity consumption worldwide. With the proliferation of medical IoT devices, the situation will become even more severe, and we should prevent this development already today.


The modules and courses are primarily aimed at students of biotechnology or related disciplines (biomedical engineering, chemistry, physics, electrical engineering, microsystems technology). The current course dates can be found in the course catalogue. We recommend to be present at the first event of the courses, as the organizational framework, including registration, will be discussed at this point.

Introduction to Bioelectronics

ModuleEinführung in die Bioelektronik (Introduction to Bioelectronics)
Course TypeIntegrated Course (IV)
Hours per Semester Week3
ExamPortfolio Review (graded)
Module ListsBiotechnology (Master), Biological Chemistry (Master)
Optional Courseall related study programs (e.g. Biomedical Engineering, Chemistry, Physics, Electrical Engineering)
Prior KnowledgeBachelor in Biotechnology or related study programs
SemesterSummer Semester

The lecture "Einführung in die Bioelektronik" takes place every summer semester at the TU Berlin. Biotechnologists are introduced to the basics of microelectronics, which is illustrated by application examples from biology and medicine such as membrane potential, ECG, neurostimulation, etc. In addition, exercises are held which include the solution of Internet-based tasks and the learning of important computer tools. The latter are trained in a weekly exercise group (e.g. CAD). At the end of the course the participants can suggest a bioelectronic system of their own choice or choose from the literature to redesign in a term paper using the methods learned and thus apply the techniques learned in their own project. → module description

Practical Course of Bioelectronics

ModulePractical Course Bioelectronics
Type of CoursePractical Course
Semester hours per week30 (Block Practical Course)
ExamPortfolio Review (graded)
Module ListBiotechnology (Master), Biological Chemistry (Master)
Optional Courserelated study programs (e.g. Biomedical Engineering, Chemistry, Physics, Electrical Engineering)
Prior KnowledgeBachelor in Biotechnology or related study programs, Patricipation at the lecture „Introduction to Bioelectronics“
SemesterWinter Semester

At the end of each semester a practical course in bioelectronics is held. In a period of two weeks four experiments on the topics ECG, enzyme sensor, impedance cell sensor and microfluidic cell separation are completed. During these experiments, students learn how to handle simple electronic devices, 3D printers, microfluidic pumps and modern measurement and control systems based on single-board computers such as Arduino and Raspberry Pi. A detailed script serves as a thorough preparation. → module description

Project Work

Due to the increasing interest in project work, more and more practical courses on bioelectronics are now being offered as part of the teaching modules Vertiefungsmodul Biotechnologie FG BVT and Angewandete Biotechnologie aus Sicht der Bioverfahrenstechnik.

For those, who are interested in writing a BSc or MSc thesis, we conduct thorough discussions about their previous work and interests in order to identify their strengths and areas in which they can further develop their potential. The most recently started work was in the fields of cell separation of microalgae, sensory analysis of metabolites, cell density measurement in screening processes, etc. → module description


Master and Bachelor theses can be carried out in the Joint Lab Bioelectronics in the fields as listed under "Research". Just contact us if you are interested. Through discussion we will jointly develop a suitable topic that either has to be dealt with for an ongoing research project or that fits your strengths and weaknesses. In the list below - without claiming to be complete - some possible topics are given.

The calls are aimed at students of biotechnology or other life sciences. On the basis of our cooperation with Faculty IV, interested students from electronics and computer science can also apply.

Electrical cell separation in microfluidic channels. The basic effect is dielectrophoresis. For life scientists, the question of its applicability to microalgae and other microorganisms to be investigated arises. From the point of view of electronics and computer science, on the other hand, it is of interest how the electrical cell properties can be determined or how the separation effect can be optimised using machine learning methods.

In-line process sensors. For the lab-of-the-future at the FGBVT, microsensors are being developed and tested that monitor the bioprocess in microtitre plates or minibioreactors. This includes sensors for the monitoring of biomass as well as metabolites. The principle of impedance measurement is used to measure biomass or cell density. For metabolites such as glucose we use special receptor assays such as ConcanavalinA-dextran.

Privacy for medical implants. Chemical sensors e.g. for glucose are on the verge of being used as full implants in medical diagnostics. This opens up completely new perspectives for the therapy of difficult diseases such as diabetes. But what about the privacy of the data obtained? How are the technical systems to be designed so that they meet the strict requirements of the DSGVO, which came into force last year? These questions were discussed in the lecture series "Internet and Privacy" and approaches to solutions are to be examined that are oriented to the development status of fitness trackers.

Electrically driven lysis of cells. In nucleic acid diagnostics, nucleotide strands to be examined must first be isolated from the cells. While detection and sequencing are now miniaturized, this is not yet the case with lysis. The aim of the work is to build a chip-based system that will allow the lysis process to be operated efficiently. At FG Sensorik und Aktuatorik an electronic system based on commercially available components is to be designed and built, and a "passive" chip with Au or TiN electrodes is to be controlled by this system. At FG BVT the system will be tested and protocols for different cell types will be studied to achieve maximum throughput and efficiency.


Prof. Dr. Mario Birkholz

Since 2012 Mario Birkholz and Peter Neubauer have headed the Joint Laboratory for Bioelectronics, which was founded by TU Berlin and IHP, the Leibniz Institute for Innovative Microelectronics. In his research, he has focused on photoactive membrane proteins, solar cell materials, structural investigations of thin films and - since 2004 - the use of microelectronics in biotechnology.

The rising field of Bioelectronics is so fascinating because it opens the door to a fusion of functional materials from technology and nature. In his lecture "Introduction to Bioelectronics", Prof. Birkholz brings this approach to students every summer semester and introduces prospective biotechnologists to the modern techniques of microelectronics.

Current research projects deal with cell manipulation with electrical techniques as well as with the use of microsensors for monitoring bioprocesses. In addition, an implantable biosensor has been developed for monitoring the blood sugar level. Here, as in e-health in general, the question arises as to how the data obtained can be made available to patients and medicine without violating privacy.


Joint Lab Bioelectronics
Institute for Biotechnology
Ackerstr. 76, 13355 Berlin
Room Z33
+49 30 314-21159

Scientists & Graduates

NameSurnameTitleE-MailPhone (030) 314-
AltmannMadelineBSc 72023
PokoraMarcBSc 72023
SchulzeLisaBSc 72023



Conference Presentations

  • M.Birkholz, M.Kögler, Sustainable Design of Online Biosensors, European BioSensor Symposium 2023
  • A. Henriksson, M. Altmann, P. Neubauer, M. Birkholz, Silicon photonic supported by dielectrophoresis for detecting microbes, European BioSensor Symposium 2023
  • N. Boldt, J. Späth, S. Hartmann, M. Birkholz, R. Thewes, The Impact of Signal Quality in Dielectrophoresis Experiments, BioCAS Conference Taipeh 2022
  • D. Malti, A. Barai, M.E.P. Emmerich, L.I.M. Hinze, P. Neubauer, M. Birkholz, Separation of microalgae and polystyrene particles by Dielectrophoresis, BioProScale Symposium 2021 Online, Berlin, March 2022
  • M. Birkholz, M. Kögler, K. Paulick, Wie viel Energie verbraucht mein Handy, um mich zu überwachen? Workshop auf dem Bits&Bäume-Kongress Berlin 2022
  • S. Hartmann, L. Raue, M. Emmerich, P. Neubauer, M. Birkholz, Electroporation of PUFA-Producing Dinoflagellate, 7thBioProScale Symposium 2022, Berlin, March 2022
  • A. Henriksson, J. Marland, A. Tsiamis, S. Smith, M. Birkholz,  System integration of a dielectrophoretic assisted microring resonator biosensor platform, Mikrosystemtechnik Kongreß, Ludwigsburg, November 2021
  • A. Frey, N. Boldt, A. Barai, M. Birkholz, I. Kühne, R. Thewes, Modeling and Analysis of the Electrolyte Voltage Drop in Dielectrophoresis Actuators, BioCAS 2021, Berlin, October 2021 
  • N. Boldt, D.E. Malti, S. Damm, A. Barai, M. Birkholz, R. Thewes,  Impedance Matching in Dielectrophoresis Experiments, BioCAS 2021, Berlin, October 2021 
  • A. Henriksson, M. Jäger, L. Kasper, P. Neubauer, M. Birkholz, Applying Dielectrophoresis to Improve a Microring Resonator Biosensor Platform, BioProScale Symposium 2021 Online, Berlin, March 2021
  • A. Barai, J. Flügge, A. Hutari, P. Neubauer und M. Birkholz, Dielektrophorese-basiertes Lab-on-Chip-System zur Separation von Mikroalgen, 8. MikroSystemTechnik Kongress, 2019, Berlin