SBIR Phase I: Label-free, raman-on-chip sensor for single molecule analysis of biotoxins in fresh water

Period of Performance: 01/01/2013 - 12/31/2013


Phase 1 SBIR

Recipient Firm

1388 Church St
San Francisco, CA 94114
Principal Investigator, Firm POC


This Small Business Innovation Research Phase I project aims to develop a novel type of nanodevice for label-free detection and identification of single, individual (bio)molecules. A unique nanomanufacturing technology has been developed for low-cost and reliable fabrication of micro/nanofluidic circuitry integrated with plasmonic nanostructures. Successful combination of these components will allow the confinement of light and liquid at the nanoscale, allowing the characterization of individual molecules flowing one-by-one along a plasmonic hot spot. This technology will enable a breakthrough in the detection and identification of single molecules, drastically simplifying the sample preparation by removing the need for labeling. The Phase I work will focus on the use of the nanochannel/nanoantenna system to detect the Raman signal of substances confined in tiny volumes (10^-21 L). This will serve as the basis for the development of a fully integrated system with on-chip read out capabilities for detection of toxins in fresh water in Phase II. The broader impact/commercial potential of this project lies in the novelty and versatility of the sensor, which will be able to detect, discriminate and analyze individual molecules without the need for labels. Even further, the system will be portable, fully integrated with on-chip read out capabilities, and will require very small sample volumes (on the order of a few microliters). The first market to be targeted is environmental monitoring for water control: the device will be used to detect in real time the concentration of toxins in fresh water, and to track their evolution over time. Once the label-free detection and identification of single biomolecules on a portable chip is demonstrated, the applications will be expanded to the biomedical and point-of-care markets. The results of the research in Phase I will open a new route for the fabrication of a large variety of fully-integrated, ultrasensitive, portable, label-free biosensors.