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Module Specifications

Archived Version 2021 - 2022

Module Title
Module Code

Online Module Resources

NFQ level 8 Credit Rating 7.5
Pre-requisite None
Co-requisite None
Compatibles None
Incompatibles None

Bioelectronics is the application of the principles and technologies of electronic and computer systems, system modelling and electronic materials to biology and medicine, and the potential application of biological materials to solving information-processing problems. Its most immediate manifestation is in biomedical sensing and instrumentation, but a wide range of existing and potential application of electronics to biology and organic materials to information-processing problems are also part of this subject. It is a relatively new frontier for the attention of electronic and computer engineers, but its importance can only increase with the passage of time. This module includes practical lab-based, group-project-based and in-class-test-based activities, but remote students will be facilitated as far as possible to participate fully in these.

Learning Outcomes

1. Explain and perform quantitative analysis on the physiological quantities and associated transducer characteristics that allow the sensing of clinically and health-related variables such as those relating to vital signs, metabolism, physical condition, physical activity, and bodily environment.
2. Design and implement appropriate electronic instrumentation and software for biosignal conditioning, amplification and digitization, and biosignal extraction or event detection relevant to clinical interpretation of data and diagnosis.
3. Design and conduct experiments, as well as measure, analyse, interpret and present data from living systems.
4. Model and analyse biological systems using the techniques of electronic and control engineering.
5. Explain and perform quantitative analysis on the interface between biological materials and micro- and nanoelectronics materials and devices, including the use of organic electronic material for such interfacing.
6. Explain commercial, regulatory, ethical and practical hurdles in the development of medical device electronics.

Workload Full-time hours per semester
Type Hours Description
Lecture36No Description
Assignment Completion20No Description
Independent Study131.5No Description
Total Workload: 187.5

All module information is indicative and subject to change. For further information,students are advised to refer to the University's Marks and Standards and Programme Specific Regulations at: http://www.dcu.ie/registry/examinations/index.shtml

Indicative Content and Learning Activities

Module Introduction
Module outline, learning outcomes, assessment and reference materials; introduction to the BIOPAC Student Lab.

Action Potentials and Sources of Biopotentials - the Heart and the Nervous System
The human cell structure; cell membrane ion transport; the mechanisms of action potentials; bioelectric potentials at the skin surface; how the cardiovascular system gives rise to the electrocardiogram (ECG); the electrocardiogram waveform structure and interpretation. The neuron and the structure of the central nervous system; the role of and operation of synapses; the structure of the brain; the electroencephalogram (EEG) format and interpretation; muscle action and the electromyogram (EMG).

Biopotential Electrodes
The redox reaction, half-cell potential, electronegativity and polarisation; equivalent electric circuit for a biopotential electrode in an electrolyte; equivalent circuit for an electrode on skin; types of electrode; stimulating vs measurement electrodes.

The Electrocardiograph (ECG)
The electrical activity of the heart; the cardiac vector; ECG leads; Einthoven’s triangle, augmented leads and precordial leads.

Biopotential Amplifiers
Common Mode Rejection Ratio (CMRR); instrumentation amplifier; noise sources; driven right leg; transient protection and AC signal coupling; transformer, capacitive and optically-coupled isolation amplifiers; conditioning amplifiers; signal averaging for noise reduction; calculating system noise factors and noise figures.

Blood Pressure Measurement
Direct (invasive) measures of blood pressure measurement such as catheter-connected pressure sensors; the Korotkoff method and the sphygmomanometer; the oscillometric method, including two-band instrumentation amplifiers; doppler (ultrasound) method; blood pressure finger gauge/photoplethysmogram (PPG); tonometry; pulse transit time.

Measuring Respiration
Impedance plethysmography; 2-electrode and 4-electrode systems; inductance plethysmography; ECG-derived respiration (EDR); EDR signal processing methods.

Defibrillators & Pacemakers
Types of heart arrhythmia; defibrillation; defibrillation waveforms; synchronized electrical cardioversion; pacing modes.

Branches of Bioelectronics
Organic bioelectronics; Bioelectronic components; Biosensors; Fuel Cells; Biomimetic systems; Bionics; Brain–machine interfaces; Lab-on-a-chip.

Organic Bioelectronic Materials and Devices
Conducting organic polymers; the organic electrochemical transistor (OECT); organic field-effect transistors (OFETs); ion-sensitive OFETs (IS-OFETs); organic electronic ion pump (OEIP); conducting polymers as electrodes; ion-sensitive field-effect transistor (ISFET); immunologically sensitive field-effect transistor (IMFET); optical biochemical transducers; optical measurement of blood oxygen saturation.

Grossberg Neural Models of the Human Visual System
The role of visual paradoxes and illusions in explaining our perception of form and colour; the boundary contour and feature contour systems; possible neural mechanisms.

Commercial, regulatory, ethical and practical hurdles in the development of medical devices
Electrical safety; patient safety; ethical issues; regulatory issues; data protection issues; the changing relationship between the patient and the medic.

Further Topics
These may vary from year to year but presently include: How birds sense the Earth’s Magnetic field; Insect Communication by Infrared Radiation; Information storage in DNA; Bio computers.

Assessment Breakdown
Continuous Assessment% Examination Weight%
Course Work Breakdown
TypeDescription% of totalAssessment Date
Reassessment Requirement
Resit arrangements are explained by the following categories;
1 = A resit is available for all components of the module
2 = No resit is available for 100% continuous assessment module
3 = No resit is available for the continuous assessment component
Indicative Reading List

  • John G. Webster, editor; contributing authors, John W. Clark, Jr.... [et al.]: 2010, Medical instrumentation, 4th, John Wiley & Sons, Hoboken, NJ, 9780471676003
  • C.R. Rao, S.K. Guha: 2001, Principles of Medical Electronics and Biomedical Instrumentation, Universities Press,India, 8173712573
  • R. S. Khandpur: 2005, Biomedical instrumentation, McGraw-Hill, New York, 0071447849
  • Ronald R. Pethig,‎ Stewart Smith: 2012, Introductory Bioelectronics: For Engineers and Physical Scientists, Wiley-Blackwell, 978-111997087
  • Sandro Carrara (Editor),‎ Krzysztof Iniewski (Editor): 2015, Handbook of Bioelectronics: Directly Interfacing Electronics and Biological Systems, Cambridge University Press, 978-110704083
  • Andreas Offenhäusser, Ross Rinaldi (Eds): 2010, Nanobioelectronics - for Electronics, Biology, and Medicine, Springer, 978144191857
  • Michael S. Gazzaniga, University of California, Santa Barbara; Richard B. Ivry, University of California, Berkeley; George R. Mangun, University of California, Davis.: 0, Cognitive neuroscience, New York; W. W. Norton & company, inc, 0393913481
  • Humberto R. Maturana,‎ Francisco J. Varela: 1992, The Tree of Knowledge: The Biological Roots of Human Understanding, Shambhala, 0877736421
Other Resources

31521, Website, Institute for Systems Biology, 0, What is Systems Biology?, Institute for Systems Biology, https://www.systemsbiology.org/about/what-is-systems-biology/, 31522, Website, Stephen Grossberg, 0, Stephen Grossberg Academic Homepage, http://cns.bu.edu/Profiles/Grossberg/, 31523, Website, Nelson Vaz, 0, Francisco Varela and the Immunological Self, http://www.academia.edu/4740894/Francisco_Varela_and_the_Immunological_Self,
Programme or List of Programmes