At the Fraunhofer Institute for Microelectronic Circuits and Systems (IMS) in the business unit Biohybrid Systems we develop miniaturized biosensors that are used in applications in different areas of clinical diagnostics, biotechnology, food and environmental analysis.
In the last years there has been developed a multisensory system for continuous, in-situ monitoring of bioprocessors in bioreactors. On a 7 x 7 mm² sized chip there are sensors for the measurement of glucose and lactate concentrations, cell density and pH level. This one-chip solution has significant advantages in comparison to previous sensor systems for applications in bioreactors. First, it is space-saving due to the multisensory approach and second, the previously cumbersome sampling for the measurement of distinct parameters is omitted. Using post-CMOS production processes, it is also possible to produce the multisensor chip on CMOS chips and therefore extend it with one circuit for signal processing and data transfer. Moreover, it is possible to adapt the specifications, for example the sensitivity, of the glucose and lactate biosensor individually to the required target application. This way, biotechnological products, e. g. cell cultures, tissues or antibodies can be produced more efficiently.
Another example of a successful application that has been realized in cooperation with several project partners at Fraunhofer IMS is a mass sensitive, microelectromechanical system (MEMS) based biosensor for the fast, easy and cost-efficient Point-of-Care (PoC) detection of the Respiratory Syncitial Virus (RSV) in newborns. The sensor is based on the analysis of the oscillation of a flexible membrane (flexural plate wave (FPW) sensor) which has a natural frequency that can change due to the connection of biomolecules on the sensor surface. Without elaborate preparations and analysis of the samples in special laboratories the MEMS biosensor allows for the sensitive on-site detection of an RSV infection. This is intended for the application in hospitals and medical practices. The attending physician can quickly identify the RSV pathogen through the PoC test system with just a few work steps and initiate therapeutic measures at an early stage. This way, severe courses of disease with lasting damages and long hospital stays can be avoided.