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A Novel Nanocavity Sensor for Ultra-Sensitive, Label-Free Biomolecular Detection

A multi-disciplinary team of biologists and physicists have combined forces to develop a novel, nanocavity sensor for ultra-sensitive, label-free biomolecular detection.   This nanocavity has the potential to detect chemicals, DNA/RNA, protein or other bio-entities (such as cells).




The nanocavity platform is suitable for biological and chemical sensing and therefore has wide applicability.  According to the 2008 Freedonia Group report, US demand for chemical and biological sensors is expected to grow 7.6% per year to $5.4b in 2012, with biosensors having the largest market share.  The largest specific market is the medical market.  Development of multianalyte sensors and use of biosensors in high density arrays is expected to support this increased demand. Our platform meets this expectation and can be used in the following markets: 


  1. Environmental Monitoring, where real-time, un-manned monitoring for toxins or other contaminants is envisioned leading to enhanced public safety. 
  2. The Pharmaceutical production industry, where the sensor can be used to assay for multiple contaminants in the drug manufacturing process leading to a reduced cost of monitoring with fewer withdrawals of “bad batches” of drugs due to contamination.  We believe this is an attractive first market opportunity, with potentially large cost savings to the pharma industry.
  3. An obvious market opportunity is for clinical diagnostics, prognostics and monitoring of drug efficacy for various clinical conditions.  Our primary interest is in cancer biomarkers, and we are activity seeking collaborations and funding to further develop this application.  However, any disease or condition can be exploited – if there are valid biomarkers.
  4. Our nanocavity sensor can also be used in the food industry in a similar way as the environmental and pharma production markets – to provide improved real-time monitoring of contaminants.  The ability to track contamination through the production/packaging system should lead to fewer recalls for contamination, increased cost savings to industry and enhanced public health.
  5. We are also activity exploring the market for the nanocavity sensor for the military, to monitor soldiers’ physical condition in real time.
  6. Basically, the nanocavity platform has the potential to detect a target anywhere highly selective, highly-sensitive, biomolecular or chemical detection is needed.

Features and Benefits:

  1. Small in size (5mm x 5mm slide can detect multiple targets with high levels of redundancy)
  2. Real-time detection (i.e. is rapid)
  3. 3-D architecture that significantly increases the probability of detection
  4. High throughput, with up to 106 sensors/mm2 -  a large capacity for multiplexing
  5. Detects target molecules via electronic detection, meaning that the system requires no optics, no lasers, and no fluorescence or other labeling (i.e. a label free detection system)
  6. Detect single molecules at low concentrations of material
  7. Requires no amplification of target material (i.e. no PCR or PCR-like methods required)
  8. Relatively inexpensive, with a nanocavity chip expected to cost $100

To learn more about the technology, search our Available Technologies or contact OTTL (see About Us).