A Sandia National Laboratories research team developed a new type of specialized electrochemical sensor that theoretically can detect multiple unrelated chemicals, such as proteins, DNAs, RNAs, etc.
From a press release:
The new Sandia sensor will be able to simultaneously detect thousands of biomolecules on a single platform. By integrating antibodies, DNA, and other biomolecules on a single device, the number of lab instruments, volume of reagents required, time for analysis, and the cost of performing effectively thousands of tests are all reduced…
The platform, a microfabricated chip, is just one inch by one inch in size. Several technological advances in microfabrication processes have increased the numbers of electrodes that can be produced on a sensor platform. A major challenge is how to pattern different biomolecules onto closely spaced micrometer-sized electrodes. The research team believes the answer lies in the electrodeposition of aryl diazonium salts.
The surface chemistry, produced by team members David Wheeler and Shawn Dirk, possesses several advantages over currently-used chemistry, Wheeler says.
“This diazonium-based surface chemistry can be selectively deposited onto several types of substrates by controlling the charge of the substrate in the diazonium solution,” Wheeler says. “Because the deposition of the diazonium molecules is based on the application of an electrical potential, the selective patterning of individually addressable electrodes is possible. Upon deposition, covalent bonds are formed with the substrate, producing a highly stable film.”
The chemistry is also compatible with a wide variety of biomolecules. DNA, antibodies, enzymes, and peptides all have been patterned onto arrays at Sandia using this chemistry.
After treating the sensor with the target solution, the array is washed and treated with a different solution containing molecules that bind to the other end of the target biomolecule, forming a “sandwich.” These secondary labels form an electroactive product that is detected by the electrode.
Says team member Ronen Polsky, “We are also investigating a new electrochemical detection method, using electrocatalytic nanoparticles, that we hope will eliminate the extra washing and labeling steps. This will greatly simplify the end device.”