Project Acronym: FASPEC

Full title: Fiber-based planar antennas for biosensing and diagnostics

Project duration: 36 months
Coordinator: University of Siegen

Contact: Mario Agio

Project website address:

https://nano-optics.physik.uni-siegen.de/research/projects/faspec/

Executive summary  

The ability to deliver critical data for pathogen determination in a timely manner makes high-performance diagnostic tools a future key component of the healthcare system. Although fluorescence-based approaches are widely available, conventional read-out optics is bulky, not flexible and often lacks of high sensitivity. Nanophotonics-based sensing promises to build on the advantages of optical sensing while overcoming its limitations, providing better sensitivity as well as easier integration into affordable devices and disposable units. We have recently developed a planar optical antenna that can largely improve the collection efficiency by beaming the emission of molecules into a narrow cone. The project aims at translating these findings into a fluorescence-based molecular assay for in-vitro diagnostics and on the integration of the optical readout scheme into an automated platform. The key photonic innovation is the replacement of the bulk optics with a suitably designed photonic chip. The latter shall direct fluorescence towards the sensor head, enhancing the fluorescence limits of detection by orders of magnitude. The bioassays and the platform validation will focus on sepsis, which is a common hospitalization disease with high mortality rates. The photonic chip will be functionalized with biological recognition elements for selected target molecules, e.g., proteins and microRNA as sepsis biomarkers. Our aim is to rapidly translate a scientific achievement into an innovative technology, where large sensitivities are attained in a compact and low-cost device, and to provide new tools to diagnose sepsis, a major challenge of the healthcare system.