Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS


HERMES Report Summary

Project ID: 320535
Funded under: FP7-IDEAS-ERC
Country: Denmark

Final Report Summary - HERMES (HERMES – High Exponential Rise in Miniaturized cantilever-like Sensing)

The overall goal of HERMES was to achieve sensitive high-throughput cantilever-like sensors that generate reliable and reproducible results. This has been address by i) developing and exploring DVD-like read-out platforms and ii) investigating and applying new generation of cantilever-like sensors (electrodes, nanopillars, strings, doubly clamped beams...). The resulting devices have been kept as simple as possible, in most cases avoiding integrated electronics, only relying on optics such as
optical pick-up units (OPUs) from DVDs and BlyRay players.

In cantilever-based sensing, micrometer sized cantilevers are functionalized on one side with probe molecules. As target analytes bind to the probe molecules, the cantilever deflects due to changes in surface stress. This deflection is typically in the nm range and normally only a few cantilevers can be read-out simultaneously. Using a rotating disc system with OPU for cantilever deflection measurements, hundreds of cantilevers can be read-out in one second. This approach we have used for detection of e.g. biomarkers. Vibrating micrometer sized strings, bridges and membranes can be used for efficient and sensitive mass detection and for chemical analysis of single nanoparticles and drug formulations. Changes in resonance frequency are indirectly used to monitor minute changes in mass and temperature. The system tracks the resonance frequency changes of 10 resonators in a liquid chamber. The tracking is performed by a Blu-ray OPU mounted on a translational stage from DVD player. This system has allowed us to study degradation of biodegradable polymers in a few hours – traditionally such measurements take months to achieve. Electrochemical sensing is also integrated on a rotating disc platform. We have demonstrated sample preparation and subsequent electrochemical detection of the chemical p-Coumaric acid in a cell supernatant from a producing strain of E.coli supplied with Tyrosine. Nanopillar substrates for Surface Enhanced Raman Spectroscopy (SERS) have been developed and these exhibit high and uniform enhancement of the Raman signal. We have applied the SERS substrates for small analyte detection, for example in the analysis of samples from cell supernatants and patients’ breath. To obtain simple sample handling and improved SERS sensor reliability, the nanopillar substrates have been integrated on spinning discs and read-out by an add-on spectrometer. Finally, agglutination based assays can be handled and read-out on a disc platform using a Blu-ray OPU for optomagnetic detection. The used beads are nanometer sized and applications such as acute phase and dengue fever biomarkers have been demonstrated. Also, more fundamentally, the molecular action of the diabetes drug Metformin has been studied, elucidating the copper-binding properties of the drug. When combining nano sensors with ODD technology, new and unexpected discoveries appear. For example, we have seen that the SERS substrate can function as a ‘filter paper’ when a liquid sample is introduced to only the bottom of the SERS chip. The liquid travels across the nanopillars, efficiently removing larger molecules and subsequently separating smaller molecules in ‘bands’ on the substrate – much like in chromatography.
HERMES has resulted in generally five different sensing platforms. The platforms have indeed increased our experimental throughput and in many cases improved reliability and sensitivity. So far, HERMES has resulted in more than 23 journal articles and 4 patent applications. The activity has additionally attracted two ERC POC grants, which have supported the establishment of the company BluSense diagnostics and generated the platform for a second company expected to start in 2019.

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