PULLMAN, Wash. Looking to cut biodetector size and cost, Washington State University researchers have applied microprinting to the design of lab-on-a-chip systems. The technique can produce dense arrays of sensors specifically tuned to register the presence of particular DNA sequences.
Potential threatening biological agents like anthrax or smallpox can be detected by flooding the printed sensor array with biological samples. The sensors will respond to characteristic DNA sequences of the microbes in the solution.
The analysis can only be performed with lab bench-sized analyzers at present. The printing technique not only enables handheld-sized sensor arrays, but could drastically reduce the cost of manufacturing biological detectors, the researchers said.
The technique was developed with the Energy Department's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.