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Assembly technique for tiny wires may eventually help detect cancer and other diseases
Date:3/7/2008

Bottom-up manufacturing may hold the key to production of tiny medical devices capable of testing for multiple molecules like viruses or cancer markers, according to an interdisciplinary team of Penn State researchers.

"Diagnostic chips can be made more useful by assembling, at predetermined locations on the chip, large numbers of nanowires pretreated off chip," says Rustom B. Bhiladvala, research assistant professor, electrical engineering. "Using this new bottom-up method, our group has demonstrated that thousands of single wires can be successfully aligned and anchored to form tiny diving board resonator arrays."

The traditional top-down process begins with silicon and carves nanoresonator devices from the material. This approach works well and produces many devices that are nearly identical, but the process has limitations. The addition of chemical probes or other changes in the existing materials must be done after the devices are fabricated on the chips.

The bottom-up method, although not producing identical devices, is more flexible. In bottom-up fabrication, researchers manufacture nanowires off chip using any inorganic or organic material that will produce nanowires. They can attach probe molecules to the wires off chip, using a variety of chemicals and they can attach each group of nanowires and their probes to the chips in the numbers and at the locations desired.

"We can achieve high device integration yields, but the devices are not as uniform as top-down manufactured devices," says Theresa S. Mayer, professor of electrical engineering. "However, we can access materials that are not easy to integrate into the devices with top-down methods. We can also integrate wires treated off-chip with entirely different probe molecules that are attached to the wires using condition optimized for that molecule."

The researchers described their bottom-up method using fabrication of a resonator array in the current
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Contact: A'ndrea Elyse Messer
aem1@psu.edu
814-865-9481
Penn State
Source:Eurekalert

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