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January 28th, 2008
Exploiting the unique properties of mass-producible photonic crystals could lead to more efficient and accurate biological assays.
Screening the biochemical interaction of potential pharmaceutical compounds against a wide array of proteins and cells is a critical early step in drug discovery. In this way, costly failures can be avoided before the drug is introduced to animals and humans. Similarly, testing patients' blood or tissue samples for expression of a gene profile will become common practice in decisions regarding the most promising course of treatment. Reliable assays are also essential to applications such as environmental monitoring, crop protection, and the detection of biological warfare agents. Biological substances may be most simply sensed directly through their dielectric permittivity, a measure of how they affect electric fields, in so-called label-free detection. Even greater sensitivity may be obtained by attaching a fluorescent compound to the substance of interest, and then exciting the florescent molecule.
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