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Molecular sensors and biosensors

The growing demand for point-of-care testing and personalized medicine, together with emerging environmental concerns, increases the business potential of molecular sensors and biosensors.

VTT has been engaged in biosensor and molecular sensor research and development for over 25 years and so is well prepared to realize this potential. We offer the entire set of competences needed for sensor development: computational simulations and modelling, transducer construction, immobilisation of recognition molecules on the sensor surface, as well as recombinant antibody development.

Depending on customer needs, VTT can provide tailor-made new application-specific instruments and devices or improve upon existing products in diverse market sectors (examples shown below), such as medical diagnostics, drug discovery, drug testing, gas detection, chemical and environmental monitoring.

Detection methods and transducer devices

We offer application-specific development of detection methods and transducer devices. Depending on customer needs, sensor transducers can be based on Plasmonics, surface-sensitive fluorescence, electrochemistry, thermal effects, as well as acoustic resonances excited into microelectromechanical (MEMS) or Piezo resonators.

Our microacoustic MEMS sensors enable the production of miniaturised sensor arrays for multi-analyte or multi-sample detection with high performance both in gas and liquid samples. The sensors are compatible with integration and silicon batch processing technologies, and offer high promise for small, cost-efficient array-type sensors.

VTT has developed a surface-sensitive fluorescence method for molecular detection that enables real-time measurements (kinetic studies, for example) with enhanced signal levels as well as very high surface sensitivity and selectivity. The method is highly immune to background fluorescence, which enables reliable quantitative results within one to two minutes, and obviates the laborious washing steps needed with conventional fluorescence systems.

In addition to the aforementioned methods, roll-to-roll printing can be used to produce flexible, low-cost printed sensors. More information on the subject can be found in Printed Intelligence pages.

Computational simulations and modelling

We employ various theoretical and computational methods in the design and development of sensing devices as well as sensing materials. For example, finite element methods (FEM) and equivalent circuit-based, as well as analytical, models are used for physical modelling. Molecular simulations are used to predict the structures and properties of different molecules and molecular assemblies, as well as the binding phenomena of molecular sensors.

Highly Specific Layers for Molecular Recognition

We offer highly specific antibody layers and a novel imprinting strategy based on self-assembly (SAM) layers for molecular recognition, but also single-stranded DNA layers for hybridisation. The antibodies are site-directly oriented to maximise the binding capacity of the layer and, thus, the signal levels when applied in a sensor. Furthermore, the layers are based on hydrophilic polymers or lipoamides that reduce non-specific binding.

The highly specific, non-fouling layers can be used in surface-based diagnostic devices, personalised diagnostics and therapy. The layers can also be used to construct microbe-based sensors for tissue engineering, stem cell research and neuronal networks to improve cell growth.