Researchers have developed a unique ink iet printing method for fabricating tiny biocompatible polymer microdisk lasers for biosensing applications. The approach enables the production of both the laser and sensor in a room temperature, open-air environment, potentially enabling new uses of biosensing technologies for health monitoring and disease diagnostics.
Using an inexpensive and portable commercial ink jet printer to fabricate a sensor in an ambient environment could make it possible to produce biosensors on-site as needed. This could help make biosensing widespread even in economically disadvantaged countries and regions, where it could be used for simple biochemical tests, including those for pathogen detection.
The researchers describe the ability to print microdisk lasers as small as the diameter of a human hair from a specially developed polymer called FC-V-50. They also show that the biosensing microdisks can successfully be used with the widely used biotin-avidin system.
The technique can be used to print on almost any substrate, the researcher said. This means that it could one day be possible to print a sensor for health monitoring directly on the surface of a person’s fingernail, for example. Many of today’s biosensors use the strong interaction between the molecules biotin and avidin to detect the presence of proteins that indicate infection or disease. This typically involves tagging a molecule of interest with biotin and detecting when avidin binds.
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