Russian researchers develop nanosensor to detect incurable diseases like cancer, HIV

Nanosensor 1106Moscow (ISJ) - Russian researchers have developed a highly sensitive nanomechanical sensor, which could detect cancerous tumours, HIV, hepatitis, herpes and may other diseases. The ultracompact sensor, developed by two researchers of Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology?s Laboratory of Nanooptics and Plasmonics, enables doctors to identify tumour markers, whose presence in the body signals the emergence and growth of cancerous tumours. It will help diagnose diseases long before they can be detected by any other method, and will pave the way for a new-generation diagnostics.

?We?ve been following the progress made in the development of micro- and nanomechanical biosensors for quite a while now and can say that no one has been able to introduce a simple and scalable technology for parallel monitoring that would be ready to use outside a laboratory,? said the researchers Dmitry Fedyanin and Yury Stebunov. ?Our goal was not only to achieve the high sensitivity of the sensor and make it compact, but also make it scalable and compatible with standard microelectronics technologies.?

Unlike similar devices, the new sensor has no complex junctions and can be produced through a standard CMOS (Complementary metal-oxide-semiconductor) process technology used in microelectronics. The sensor doesn?t have a single circuit, and its design is very simple. It consists of two parts - a photonic (or plasmonic) nanowave guide to control the optical signal, and a cantilever hanging over the waveguide. A cantilever, or beam, is a long and thin strip of microscopic dimensions (5 micrometres long, 1 micrometre wide and 90 nanometres thick), connected tightly to a chip.

Calculations done by the researchers showed that the new sensor will combine high sensitivity with a comparative ease of production. Its miniature dimensions allow it to be used in all portable devices, like smartphones, wearable electronics, etc. One chip, several millimetres in size, will be able to accommodate several thousand such sensors, configured to detect different particles or molecules. The price, thanks to the simplicity of the design, will most likely depend on the number of sensors, and much more affordable than its competitors.

Source: Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology

Image credit: MIPT

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