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Jennifer Dionne's Metasurfaces Biochip

Silicon nanoantennas detect DNA strands and proteins in minutes, providing information about how intense an infection is as well.

A new study by Professor Jennifer Dionne, et al, describes biochip technology for rapid genetic screening, a potentially revolutionary solution that could turn virus and disease detection into a cheap and quick affair. (source:

Their paper, "Rapid genetic screening with high quality factor metasurfaces," was published on Nature Communications.

Paper Abstract: Genetic analysis methods are foundational to advancing personalized medicine, accelerating disease diagnostics, and monitoring the health of organisms and ecosystems. Current nucleic acid technologies such as polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and next-generation sequencing (NGS) rely on sample amplification and can suffer from inhibition. Here, we introduce a label-free genetic screening platform based on high quality (high-Q) factor silicon nanoantennas functionalized with nucleic acid fragments. Each high-Q nanoantenna exhibits average resonant quality factors of 2,200 in physiological buffer. We quantitatively detect two gene fragments, SARS-CoV-2 envelope (E) and open reading frame 1b (ORF1b), with high-specificity via DNA hybridization. We also demonstrate femtomolar sensitivity in buffer and nanomolar sensitivity in spiked nasopharyngeal eluates within 5 minutes. Nanoantennas are patterned at densities of 160,000 devices per cm2, enabling future work on highly-multiplexed detection. Combined with advances in complex sample processing, our work provides a foundation for rapid, compact, and amplification-free molecular assays.

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