"The slit is acting as a mixer for the three beams the incident light and the surface plasmon waves," Pacifici said.
The engineers learned they could vary the phase shift for an interferometer by changing the distance between the grooves and the slit, meaning they could tune the interference generated by the waves. The researchers could tune the thousands of interferometers to establish baselines, which could then be used to accurately measure concentrations of glucose in water as low as 0.36 milligrams per deciliter.
"It could be possible to use these biochips to carry out the screening of multiple biomarkers for individual patients, all at once and in parallel, with unprecedented sensitivity," Pacifici said.
The engineers next plan to build sensors tailored for glucose and for other substances to further test the devices. "The proposed approach will enable very high throughput detection of environmentally and biologically relevant analytes in an extremely compact design. We can do it with a sensitivity that rivals modern technologies," Pacifici said.
Tayhas Palmore, professor of engineering, is a contributing author on the paper. Graduate students Jing Feng (engineering) and Vince Siu (biology), who designed the microfluidic channels and carried out the experiments, are listed as the first two authors on the paper. Other authors include Brown engineering graduate student Steve Rhieu a
|Contact: Richard Lewis|