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The project's funding goal was not reached on Fri, February 13 2015 5:35 PM UTC +00:00
Daniel GlennBy Daniel Glenn
First created
Daniel GlennBy Daniel Glenn
First created
$7,027
pledged of $21,500pledged of $21,500 goal
35
backers
0seconds to go
Funding Unsuccessful
The project's funding goal was not reached on Fri, February 13 2015 5:35 PM UTC +00:00

About

Surface Plasmon Resonance is label-free biosensing technology that detects the interaction of bio-analytes with probe molecules using optics. 

Today it is only available in equipment costing tens of thousands of dollars.

This is a shame. 

Surface plasmon resonance for biosensing is proven technology. The disruption we aim to achieve with our project is to build a simplified surface plasmon resonance bio-detector and make it available to DIY biochemists, students and citizen-scientists.

Biology and Surface Plasmon Resonance

DIY Biochemists can use surface plasmon resonance to analyze the bio-molecular interactions that occur in ELISA, Western Blot, DNA Hybridization and Antigen-Antibody assays - but without the steps of gel preparation or tagging with colorimetric, fluorescent or radioactive labels, reducing the analysis time to a few minutes.

Citizen-scientists can use SPR as a bio-detector for contaminants and pathogens in the environment. Its detection capabilities extend from the detection of antibiotics and steroids in meat and poultry samples to single-celled organisms such as E. coli and Salmonella.

Education. The affordability of PlasmonLAB also opens up its use it for research and environmental testing in secondary and post-secondary classrooms around the world. It is rugged and simple and can be operated on battery power. It can be used in the field in remote locations, making it ideal for use in areas with undeveloped infrastructure.

The Physics of Surface Plasmon Resonance for Sensitive Biochemical Assays

Surface Plasmon Resonance is an optical effect that occurs when light reflecting from metal creates waves of free electron density in the metal. These waves can be modeled as quantum particles called plasmons.

Light reflecting from the surface will have a dip in intensity at a particular angle due to the energy of the light being transferred into plasmons (Black dots) by evanescent waves (Red line):

Biological analytes on the surface of the metal affect the optical properties of the surface and the angle of the dip changes in response:

The angle of the dip is tracked with curve-fitting software to produce a graph called a Sensorgram that quantifies the level of probe-analyte reaction by measuring the position of the dip versus time:

Analyzing the sensorgram quantifies the biomolecular reaction. The sensorgram can be used as a simple go/no-go test for the presence of a biomolecule, or can be analyzed more closely to give hard data on biomolecular affinity and kinetics.

This was only a superficial description of the physical theory to get the idea across quickly. -- For a more complete description, please see the Wikipedia Article on Surface Plasmon Resonance. 

When applied to biochemistry, however, physics stays in the background

The power of surface plasmon resonance is the sensitivity of the method to extremely small bio-molecular interactions on the sensing surface rapidly and and without the extra steps and tags needed with other methods.

System Description

 

Analysis Chip

The heart of PlasmonLAB is the optical chip that carries the analysis surface of the instrument. It is a 1 mm thick glass slide coated with a gold film - 50 nanometers, about the width of a virus. We use gold for its optical properties and resistance to chemicals. We've calculated that we are using about 3 cents worth of gold per chip....And the chips are reusable. The biological compounds can be removed from the gold surface by washing with detergent.

Optical Core/Analyte Flow Channel

The Gold analysis chip is housed in the optical core/analyte flow channel assembly. Analytes are examined in a fluid environment. The assembly consists of a 0.01 mililiter fluid cell that brings analytes in contact with the analysis chip and the optical core houses an infrared light source, polarizer, prism and linear array detector.

Infrared LED and Polarizer - A narrow beam angle infrared LED is the light source. The polarizer allows only light parallel to the plane of incidence to pass.

Optical Core Assembly
Optical Core Assembly

Prism - The prism forms part of the optical path that directs the light onto the analysis chip at the proper angle.

BK7 Optical Glass Prism
BK7 Optical Glass Prism

Linear Array Detector - A semiconductor detector that measures optical intensity along a line. Reflected light from the analysis chip falling on the detector is turned into intensity versus angle data.

Detector Board
Detector Board

Data Acquisition Electronics

The Computing Power Used in our Prototype
The Computing Power Used in our Prototype

Electronics

The prototype system uses an Arduino and a Raspberry Pi. The Arduino performs fast data acquisition of the digital data from the linear array detector. Data collection and analysis runs on the Raspberry Pi. In the final design a specially-built AVR microcontroller circuit on the linear array printed ciruit board will replace the Arduino

Software

PlasmonLab's software consists of the code on the Arduino AVR that processes the signal from the detector into into a reflectance profile. The application running on the Raspberry Pi converts the reflectance profile versus time into a sensor gram by tracking the reflectance minimum. The application records the sensorgram data and presents the sensorgram data in a graph.

How to Use PlasmonLAB to Detect Dengue

 

Experiment Video

We have conducted a more recent test and made a video demonstration:

 project video thumbnail
Replay with sound
Play with
sound

Release Unit

The hardware for the completed unit consists of:

  • Gold sensor chip
  • Integrated Flow cell
  • Raspberry Pi B+ 
  • 7-inch display
  • Keyboard and mouse
  • USB cable for PC data upload

Software includes the application that runs on internal Raspberry Pi that performs data collection and analysis. Data can be displayed on the attached 7" flat panel display and also uploaded to a Mac or PC.

PlasmonLAB Development

The breakthrough with PlasmonLAB is not new science, but making a powerful biosensing technique available to the greatest number of users through efficient engineering.

We anticipate that the primary applications of PlasmonLAB will bebio-chemical analysis by DIY Biochemists and environmental testing by citizen-scientists and. However, applications such as the detection of pathogens such as Dengue or Ebola virus are possible. We leave this capability at the discretion of the individual researcher.

Surface Plasmon Resonance can be the Swiss Army Knife(tm) of biological detection. The sophistication of the experiments performed with it is determined by the sophistication of the user.

Risks and challenges

One issue is always a potential risk when going from prototype to production: Sources for off-the-shelf and custom-made components can be thoroughly research and identified, but the company that makes them can stop making that component or the company can go out of business altogether.

Another potential risk is if some components in the final design don't work exactly like the components in the prototype did.

In both of these two cases, however, the result is not a dead-end.

Surface plasmon resonance bio-detection is a repeatable scientific phenomenon. The net effect would be an unfortunate delay as these problems were re-designed out of the final design.

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Funding period

- (45 days)