Figure 3 (left): Close up of biochip surface showing the coiled waveguides individual aMZIs transducers. Figure 4 (right): The functionalised surface of the aMZI transducer with biorecognition agents applied on the waveguide surface. Image courtesy of Surfix BV.
Multiplexing is easy with photonic biosensors
The ease with which photonic transducers can be duplicated as sensor building blocks makes them particularly suited for an important biosensing technique called multiplexing. Multiplexing makes for more powerful diagnostic or prognostic testing by simultaneously targeting more than one specific analyte in a sample.
In a multiplexed photonic chip biosensor, any number of generic transducers can be functionalized with a different biochemical compounds, with no fundamental limitation to the compounds that can be used.
From design to device
To develop a technology platform that meets the very specific needs of the biosensing market, LioniX International have drawn on broad expertise from beyond photonics. This has required two approaches to knowledge integration: vertical integration of internal capabilities and horizontal integration of specialist partner expertise.
Vertical integration is the lifeblood of our development process. For the photonic biosensing platform developed for Surfix, we combined expertise in photonics with electronics, fluidics and instrument design. This approach enabled us to develop modules that help Surfix directly address market needs – usability, test reliability robustness and volume manufacturability. Vitally for a commercial product, this approach also ensures that modules are built with a view to volume scalability.
Our partnership with Surfix and Qurin also brought external expertise, vital for two reasons. Firstly, innovation at the forefront of a field relies on access to highly specialised knowledge. The expertise and intellectual property required from different domains like biochemistry, nanotechnology and photonics would be very nearly impossible for a single company to accumulate on its own.
Secondly, close collaboration is vital if LioniX International is to continually develop its understanding of how core capabilities can be applied to new challenges. For example, in collaborating on biochemical surface coatings for photonic chip biosensors, we have come to understand the parameters that limit this technology. By doing so we have been able to develop complimentary electronics fluidics, sample preparation and instrumentation solutions that would have not been possible otherwise. This not only benefits our biosensing partnership, but adds to the body of expertise we can rely on to support other customers bringing technology to market.
R+D for effective product development
To offer value to customers through vertically integrated product development, we need to ensure we can bring serious expertise to the table. The source of this expertise lies not only in product development experience, but also in our own research and development projects.
One such recent project, the EU-funded BioCDX, provided foundational knowledge for photonic biosensor cartridge development. In addition to novel photonic aspects of the sensor, the cartridge design included integrated fluidic syringes for liquid handling and sample preparation and integrated low-cost light sources on the biosensor chip for easy interfacing with a desktop reader.
Figure 5: A low cost injection moulded cartridge (left) with aMZI biosensor chip. The cartridge features integrated microfluidic interfaces (mechanical syringes), blood sample preparation and light source integrated on the biosensor chip. These features make for simple interfacing with a desktop reader instrument (right). Images courtesy of CSEM/BioCDX.
Integrated photonics is playing a vital role in exciting developments in biosensing. The combination of sensitivity, testing speed and compatibility with a range of target molecules make photonic biosensors attractive in a wide range of medical and non-medical applications.
Despite pressing needs and compelling applications, the use case for biosensors is complex. To develop a cost-effective solution that can outperform existing technology, LioniX International have had to capture expertise that has both high degrees of breadth and specialism. Both are a core aspect of how we do business.
Vertical integration provides the means to develop not just photonic chips, but whole technology solutions. These solutions come in the form of assembled modules incorporating photonics, fluidics and electronics.
Whilst vertical integration leverages internal expertise, partnerships drive the necessary understanding of application required to co-develop cutting edge products.
Whether in biosensing or beyond, this approach to innovation and product development has proven impact. Through vertical integration from design to device, LioniX International is bringing the power of integrated photonics to a range of demanding applications.
- Chatzipetrou, M.; Gounaridis, L.; Tsekenis, G.; Dimadi, M.; Vestering-Stenger, R.; F. Schreuder, E.; Trilling, A.; Besselink, G.; Scheres, L.; van der Meer, A.; Lindhout, E.; G. Heideman, R.; Leeuwis, H.; Graf, S.; Volden, T.; Ningler, M.; Kouloumentas, C.; Strehle, C.; Revol, V.; Klinakis, A.; Avramopoulos, H.; Zergioti, I. A Miniature Bio-Photonics Companion Diagnostics Platform for Reliable Cancer Treatment Monitoring in Blood Fluids. Sensors2021, 21, 2230. https://doi.org/10.3390/s21062230