Integrated photonic biosensors

Photonic biosensor system

The goal of this work is to develop silicon nitride-based photonic biosensors capable of detecting a broad range of small biomolecules in liquids. Our application-specific, label-free, low-cost, simple, and rapidly responsive biosensor concepts take advantage of integrated photonic design and wafer-level fabrication that enable multiplexing, scalability, and miniaturization.

Thanks to the interdisciplinary nature of MEOS expertise, the work involves the development of all the fundamental modules for photonic biosensing: photonic devices, microfluidics, surface biofunctionalization and bioassays, and system integration.

Photonic biosensors with compact design were developed on a silicon nitride waveguide platform on 200-mm wafers. In particular, development focused on multiplexed microring resonator structures with specific light coupling elements (e.g., grating couplers) operating at 1550 nm. Further technology development targets photonic device designs at 850 nm.

A multiplex silicon nitride microring resonator biosensor system has been developed that enables rapid and sensitive detection of multiple specific miRNA biomarkers in parallel.

Biomarker recognition

The sensing method involves functionalization of sensor surfaces with capture molecules for disease-indicating biomarkers.

The currently pursued and demonstrated biomedical application of photonic biosensors is in the detection of transcriptomic (microRNA) biomarkers. miRNAs are considered promising biomarkers for the diagnosis of cancer or neurodegenerative diseases (NDD). Novel biomolecule binding assays with nucleotide-based components are currently being developed for this specific application.

The developed strategy enables the detection of a variety of disease-indicating biomarkers (e.g., nucleotides, peptides, proteins, antibodies, antigens, etc.) in a common workflow. Hence the modularity of the nucleotide-based sensor components also enables the detection of antigens indicative of infectious diseases, by presenting specially developed ligands that bind to proteins on the surface of a specific species or strain of pathogenic microorganisms (see our patents WO2018215660A1, WO2020212576A1).

Microring resonators biosensor functional principle
Microring resonators biosensor functional principle
SiN microring resonator
SiN microring resonator
Light coupling region of a SiN microring resonator
Light coupling region of a SiN microring resonator

Our expertise

  • photonic integrated circuit (PIC) design
  • technology development for the fabrication of photonic devices on 200 mm silicon wafers
  • development of microfluidic systems
  • development of surface functionalization and specific biocomponents and bioassays
  • development of photonic biosensing integrated systems and testing
  • system miniaturization through photonic assembly 

Our R&D offer

  • one-stop-shop for the development of silicon-based PIC sensors for biomedical applications
  • integrated photonic sensing solutions for personalized point-of-care diagnostics
  • SiN-on-Si photonic device and technology development for various applications:

- biomedicine

- environmental monitoring

- telecommunication

- spectroscopy

- quantum technology

  • photonic assembly and testing with specialized high precision, fast active alignment and attachment equipment