PlanOS-SFB Teilprojekt C05

PlanOS-SFB Sub-Project C05

Led by:  M. Wollweber, U. Morgner
Year:  2013
Funding:  DFG

The analytics of the life science takes advantage of various optical methods. Nevertheless application areas could be substantially expanded and flexibilized, if a sensor film with integrated analytics could be made available. Today all samples to be analyzed need to fill into specialized sample containers, adapted to the particular analytical method. Advantage of a flexible sensor sheet would be that it could be adjusted to every sample container. This opens up new fields of application for established analytical methods. Moreover sample containers (lab-on-a-chip, capillary systems, but also larger reservoirs) and sensor technology could be geared to each other by the use this integrated approach. If a full integration, including optical excitation source and detection unit, is successful, it will be a cost-saving alternative to established standard devices (e.g. microtiter plates with integrated readout). The field of application of these full integrated sensor foils range from a continuous monitoring of cell cultures in an incubator, where tissue culture flasks, petri dishes and multiwall plates can be equipped directly with sensor films, to high-content screening of smallest amounts of blood and to process monitoring in the food industry.

The goal of this subproject is to transfer selected optical standard analytics used in life science to planar polymer structures, in order to initialize new or expanded field of application, to develop cost-effective and user-friendly integrated systems and to establish the foundation for development of new measurement systems.

As part of the subproject C05 polymer-based sensors should be develop for the life sciences. This sensors are supposed to enable the optical and spectroscopic analytics in fluidic systems. The target of the first conveyor section is to design a sensor, which is able to detect lowest analytic concentrations (final target single-molecule sensitivity). Operating principle of the sensor are Whispering gallery resonances in microspheres. The resonance frequency and the quality factor of these microsphere resonators are very sensitive to molecules, located in the evanescent field of the spheres. The sensor concept shall be implemented, where every stage is designed in a way, that it forms the basis of simpler polymer-based optical sensors already: a planar sample holder for spectrophotometric measurements and a refractive index sensor. By arranging these sensors in two-dimensional optical networks, they should provide high content screening and local resolution.

To prepare the structures, technologies from various other subprojects are used – mainly hot embossing for sample wells and for superficial multi-mode waveguides and also direct writing of waveguides into the medium by means of fs-laser pulses. The development of refractive-index-matched polymers will also support the sensor development in the first founding period. Initial focus lies on the development, simulation and implementation of sensor concepts in the polymer. As long as the necessary production technologies for polymers are not available and for comparative studies, the sensors will produced from glass substrates. External light sources and detectors, developed by the partner projects, will be integrated gradually.