Oshi Agabi programmed the system to recognise the smell of explosives and could be used to replace traditional airport security, he said.
“You can give the neurons instructions about what to do – in our case we tell it to provide a receptor that can detect explosives”, Agabi added
The modem-sized device – called Koniku Kore – could provide the brain for future robots.
Agabi is attempting to reverse-engineer biology, which already accomplishes this function with a fraction of the power it would take a silicon-based processor.
He launched his start-up Koniku over a year ago, has raised $1m (£800,000) in funding and claims it is already making profits of $10m in deals with the security industry.
Koniku Kore is an amalgam of living neurons and silicon, with olfactory capabilities — basically sensors that can detect and recognise smells.
He envisages a future where such devices can be discreetly used at various points in airports, eliminating the need for queues to get through airport security. As well as being used for bomb detection, the device could be used to detect illness by sensing markers of a disease in the air molecules that a patient gives off.