Synthetic 'cell on a chip' from the University of Basel is made of miniature reaction containers that perform complex cellular reactions.


  • Precise
  • Repeatable


  • Disease control
  • Medical treatments
  • Pharmaceuticals

UN Sustainable Development Goals Addressed

  • Goal 3: Good Health & Wellbeing

The Challenge

Cells rely on many different enzymes to survive and grow. However, because multiple reactions and processes occur simultaneously, it is challenging for scientists to determine which enzymes catalyze which reactions, and at what concentrations. If these individual enzymes could be identified, it would give scientists better insight into how cells work.

Innovation Details

The synthetic ‘cell on a chip’ serves as a miniature model for studying enzymatic reactions. It is made of tiny channels on a silicon-glass chip. In one area, all the micro-channels come together at a junction. At this junction, enzyme-filled vesicles are formed. These vesicles can be designed to contain specific enzymes, enabling the scientists to study the enzymatic reaction processes. Scientists can alter the size and composition of the different vesicles to study different reactions without affecting others.