Miniature Diagnostics Platform

Miniature Diagnostics Platform

Author: Lisa-Marie Rauschendorfer

The latest Ebola pandemic shows that viruses still are a tremendous health threat. In order to fight viruses efficiently, the early and precise detection of the pathogens is key.

Larysa Baraban, Dresden University of Technology, Denys Makarov, Institute for Integrative Nanosciences, IFW Dresden, both Germany, and colleagues developed a flexible diagnostic platform which can detect viruses in the early stage of an infection. The platform is based on silicon nanowire field effect transistors (SiNW-FETs): silicon nanowires are modified with organic or inorganic functional groups, which enable selective sensitivity for the substance of interest, here an influenza virus. Dripping a solution on the SiNW-FETs causes the virus to bind and the surface potential of the nanowire to change. This causes a change in current, which is readily measurable.

The platform is able to detect viruses with a limit of detection of 40 · 10–12 M within 30 minutes, making it a promising tool for early disease diagnostics. Additionally, the SiNW-FETs are fabricated on a polyimide foil that is only 100 μm thick, making the platform highly flexible and giving it an extremely high surface-to-volume ratio, easing transport to isolated and less developed areas.


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