We present an electrode based on complementary metal oxide semiconductor (CMOS) technology that can be made fully biocompatible and chemically inert using a simple, low-cost and non-specialised process. Since these devices are based on ubiquitous CMOS technology, the integrated circuits can be readily developed to include appropriate amplifiers, filters and wireless subsystems, thus reducing the complexity and cost of external systems. The unprocessed CMOS aluminium electrodes are modified using anodisation and plating techniques which do not require intricate and expensive semiconductor processing equipment and can be performed on the bench-top as a clean-room environment is not required. The resulting transducers are able to detect both the fast electrical activity of neurons and the slow changes in impedance of growing and dividing cells. By using standard semiconductor fabrication techniques and well-established technologies, the approach can form the basis of cell-based biosensors and transducers for high throughput drug discovery assays, neuroprosthetics and as a basic research tool in biosciences. The technology is equally applicable to other biosensors that require noble metal or nanoporous microelectrodes.