Miniaturized Fluorescence Analysis System
Introduction Fluorescent dyes are widely used in biological assays to measure the concentration of DNA, RNA, and whole cells, and to measure other properties such as enzyme activity and cell health. As PCR and other molecular diagnostics methods become the standard of care in the diagnosis and monitoring of diseases, new methods for exciting and detecting fluorescent molecules will be needed. These new methods will need to have significantly reduced power, size, and cost with a simple user interface. One way to do this is to use Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs) to illuminate the sample instead of a lamp. LEDs are smaller and emit a narrower bandwidth of light. UW Researchers have found a way to excite LEDs at high currents without degrading the diodes. Technology description UW Researchers have developed a highly flexible, modular LED array that performs as well or better than competing, lamp-based fluorimeters. The system consists of an array of up to 5 LEDs of four types (purple, blue, blue-green, and green) operating under at least 5 possible drive currents. By combining different LED types and drive currents, the LED array can produce a wide range of aggregate spectra. The LED configuration is optimized using a simulation program that accounts for a number of variables in seeking the best LED configuration for detecting the sample of interest. The optimization means that the device can be tuned to provide utmost sensitivity for a given sample. Business opportunity This technology has the potential to become both a powerful research tool as well as a novel fluorescence detector for incorporation into point-of-care diagnostics systems. This work will be of interest to the fields of bio-defense, point-of-care diagnostics, forensics, and food, air and water safety. Stage of development A prototype has been made and tested. Intellectual property position A US patent is pending on this technology.
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