Chemists and engineers at Harvard University have designed a new type of V-shaped transistor, called nanoFETs, which can be used to sensitively probe cell interiors.

Existing probes are bulky and can damage cells when they are inserted, reducing the reliability and accuracy of the data gained.

The new device is about one-hundredth the size of currently used probes and can be inserted and removed from the cells multiple times without any damage.

Current probes can measure up to 5µm in diameter, while nanoFETs can measure less than 50nm in total size.

NanoFETs can be used to measure electrical signals in cells and can also be fitted with receptors to detect individual biochemicals within a cell.