Fluorescence-based detection assays play an essential role in the life sciences and medicine. To offer better detection sensitivity and lower limits of detection (LOD), there is a growing need for novel platforms with improved readout capacity. In this context, substrates containing semiconductor nanowires may offer significant advantages, due to their proven light-emission enhancing, waveguiding properties and increased surface area.
To demonstrate and evaluate the potential of such nanowires in the context of diagnostic assays, we have in this work adopted a well-established single-chain fragment antibody-based assay, based on a protocol previously designed for biomarker detection using planar microarrays, to freestanding, SiO2-coated gallium phosphide nanowires.
The assay was used for the detection of protein biomarkers in highly complex human serum at high dilution. The signal quality was quantified and compared with results obtained on conventional flat silicon and plastic substrates used in the established microarray applications.
Our results show that using the nanowire-sensor platform in combination with conventional readout methods, improves the signal intensity, contrast, and signal-to-noise by more than one order of magnitude compared to flat surfaces. The results confirm the potential of light-guiding nanowires for signal enhancement and their capacity to improve the LOD of standard diagnostic assays.
Damiano Verardo, Leena Liljedahl, Corinna Richter, Björn Agnarsson, Ulrika Axelsson, Christelle N. Prinz, Fredrik Höök, Carl A.K. Borrebaeck, Heiner Linke