Figure 1: The individual components of the new POCT platform were developed and brought together by the partners of the SMARTER-SI consortium on the basis of existing research results
Biological and chemical analyses on the smallest volumes enable resource-saving and significantly faster access to new findings in the life sciences. The accompanying miniaturisation makes such applications feasible with automated biological protocols in small mobile devices with disposables (POCT) (Figure 1). This creates numerous new possibilities for quality and safety monitoring in e.g. medical, pharmaceutical applications or along the food production chain.
A multi-channel measuring head for investigations on sample volumes in the nanolitre range has been developed by the CiS Research Institute together with international partners within the European research project “SMARTER-SI” (GA-Nr. 644596). The principle is based on fluorescence and absorption measurement on an array of different enzyme pixels. The chemically sensitive pixels, which are only a few 100 µm in diameter, are analysed by a switchable field of parallel beams generated by a combination of LED chips, micro-optical lens arrays and optical filters (Figure 2). Based on the colour response of the enzyme pixels, which is measured in fractions of a second, it is possible to detect and determine the concentration of various substances. In this specific case, it is used to analyse various allergens (egg, milk, gluten) as well as toxins such as moulds in food and feed.
However, the technically open concept can also be transferred to other applications in the field of immunoassay-based bioanalysis.
In SMARTER-SI, a network of European research institutions offers a novel manufacturing platform to produce state-of-the-art microsystems for SMEs and mid-sized companies in small quantities as cheaply as possible and without lengthy development efforts.
The EU Commission has selected Smarter-SI as one of four reference projects for the Smart Anything Everywhere initiative.
SMARTER-SI is an innovation action and is funded by the European Commission in the Horizon 2020 programme (FKZ 644596) and by the Swiss State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation (Funding code 15.0085).
Cooperation partners are: Hahn-Schickard (Germany), CiS (Germany), CSEM (Switzerland), IK4-Ikerlan (Spain), Swerea IVF (Sweden), UCC-TNI (Ireland), IPHT (Germany), VDI/VDE-IT (Germany) and seven companies.
POCT: Point-of-care testing, near-patient laboratory/immediate diagnostics.
Disposable: Disposable article, in the context disposable cartridges are meant
Pixel: Measuring point
LED: Light-emitting diode, light-emitting diode
Immunoassay: Analytical detection of an antigen-antibody bond
Figure 2: 2 x 2 version of an LED illumination matrix. A photodiode array serves as the carrier, with which the luminous intensity of each individual LED can be monitored. In the further construction, this LED light is guided into spectrally defined, parallel beams with the help of a micro lens array and optical filters