The WGM technology provides the potential for rapid quantitative detection with improved accuracy, of biomolecules such as proteins and nucleic acids. In addition, the technology promises to significantly simplify the work flow and improve the reproducibility for such tests by removing the washing step and performing hybridization and detection in parallel. These strengths match with the needs for advanced microarray technology in life sciences research. Rapid molecular detection for life sciences research is a fast-growing market, and could revolutionize healthcare research.
The WGM is based on illumination of a grid of metal nanowires with polarized excitation light and detecting the fluorescence generated by fluorescently labeled target molecules bound to capture probes on the substrate between the metal nanowires. The detection volume is limited to ~20 nm above the surface, and can be controlled via the dimensions of the nanowires and the excitation wavelength. The surface specific detection of the WGM provides a significant reduction in microarray workflow by making redundant the chip washing step; moreover, it has been shown to allow monitoring the binding of bio-molecules to the substrate in real-time.
Control of the polarization state enables using the wire grid microarray concept for both highly surface specific measurements and “conventional” measurements where the measurement volume is determined by the optical set-up rather than the geometry of the wire grid. This versatile technique has been designed to be compatible with commercial optical microarray readers currently available on the market.
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