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Fiber-Based Planar Antennas for Biosensing and Diagnostics, ERA-NET PhotonicSensing (2018-2021)

Traditional methods for pathogen determination delay treatment and increase the recovery period for the patient. The ability to deliver critical data for decision makers in a timely manner makes high-performance diagnostic tools a future key component of the healthcare system. Although fluorescence-based approaches are widely available, conventional read-out optics is bulky, not flexible and often lacks of single-molecule sensitivity. Nanophotonics-based sensing promises to build on the advantages of optical sensing while overcoming its limitations, providing higher sensitivity as well as easier integration into affordable devices and disposable units. We have recently introduced and demonstrated an optical antenna that can largely improve the collection efficiency by beaming the emission of molecules into a narrow cone. The project aims at translating these findings into a fluorescence-based molecular assay for in-vitro diagnostics, integrating fluidic and optical readout functionalities in a low-cost disposable unit coupled to an automated platform. The key photonic innovation of the project is the replacement of the bulk optics with a suitably designed photonic chip. The latter shall direct fluorescence towards the sensor head, enhancing the fluorescence limits of detection by orders of magnitude and giving the possibility to reduce or eliminate amplification steps, which are known to introduce errors and increase the readout time. The bioassays and the platform validation will focus on sepsis, which is a common hospitalization disease with high mortality rates. The photonic chip will be functionalized with biological recognition elements for selected target molecules, e.g., proteins and microRNA probes. Our aim is to rapidly translate a scientific achievement into an innovative technology, where large sensitivities are attained in a compact and low-cost device, and to provide new tools to diagnose sepsis, a major challenge of the healthcare system.

Consortium Partners:

P. Cecchi, Cecchi srl

F. Sonntag, Fraunhofer IWS

S. Howitz, GeSiM mbH

A. Giannetti, Institute of Applied Physics (CNR-IFAC)

C. Toninelli, National Institute of Optics (CNR-INO)

M. Agio, University of Siegen