Small, reusable sensing chips could lead to new point-of-care medical tests

Graphical abstraction. Credit: DOI: 10.1002 / adma.202107950

From home glucose meters to COVID-19 rapid tests, the surge in point-of-care tests is accelerating and improving medical care.

However, it is becoming increasingly difficult to continue to upgrade the sensing technologies that are driving the growth of these products.

For example, some optical sensing chips contain nanostructures that are as small as biological and chemical. molecule They are looking These nanostructures enhance the ability of sensors to detect molecules. However, their small dimensions make it difficult to guide the molecule to the correct area of ​​the sensor.

“It’s like building a new racing car that’s more streamlined and runs faster, but the doors are too small for the driver to get into the car,” said Dr. Peter Q. Liu, an assistant professor of electricity. I am saying. Engineering at the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science, University at Buffalo.

Liu — Xianglong Miao, a candidate for his lab along with his PhD, and Dr. Ting Shan Luk of the Integrated Nanotechnology Center at Sandia National Laboratories, have created a new sensor aimed at this problem.

Explained in a study published in Advanced material In January, the sensor uses Surface Enhanced Infrared Absorption (SEIRA) spectroscopy.

Spectroscopy involves studying how light interacts with matter. Infrared absorption spectroscopy has been around for over 100 years, but researchers are still trying to make this technology more powerful, affordable, and versatile.

As the name implies, these are sensor Handles light in the mid-infrared band of the electromagnetic spectrum used in remote controls, night vision goggles and other products.

The new sensor consists of several arrays of small rectangular strips of gold. The engineer dipped the strip in 1-octadecanethiol. This is the compound (often abbreviated as ODT) selected to identify.

Next, the researchers added a drop of liquid metal (in this case, gallium) that served as the base for the sensor. Finally, I put a thin glass cover on top to create a sandwich-like structure.

The sensor design, along with its layers and cavities, creates what researchers call a “nanopatch antenna.” Both antennas pour molecules into the cavity and absorb enough infrared light to analyze biological and chemical samples.

“Even a single layer of molecules in a sensor can make a 10% change in the amount of reflected light, but a normal sensor can make only a 1% change,” the team said. Liu says we will continue to improve. Sensors intended for use in bioanalytic detection and medical diagnostic applications, such as detection of biomarkers associated with specific diseases.

After measuring the ODT, researchers swabmed to remove liquid gallium from the surface of the sensor chip. This process allows the sensor to be reused, which can be more cost effective than similar alternatives.

“Our sensor construction is suitable for point-of-care applications that nurses can implement in patients, or even in patient homes outside the hospital,” he says.

High-sensitivity nanophotonic sensor with passive trapping of analyte molecules in hotspots

For more information:
Xianglong Miao et al, Liquid Metal-based Nanophotonic Structure for High Performance SEIRA Sensing, Advanced material (2022). DOI: 10.1002 / adma.202107950

Provided by
Buffalo University

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Small, reusable sensing chips could lead to new point-of-care medical tests

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