Many RNA/DNA and protein isolation and purification techniques produce a very limited sample volume and quantity, thus conventional spectrophotometric methods are impractical or impossible. This Small Business Innovation Research Phase I project aims at developing an integrated optics based, picogram/uL sensitivity, nanoliter sample volume spectrophotometer. The proposed aluminum oxide (Al2O3) platform exploits the absorption enhancement of optical waveguide and slow light effects, and therefore, is potent to achieve a sensitively improvement of 2 orders of magnitude and reduces the sample volume by 3 orders of magnitude compared to NanoDropTM. It is also the first time that integrated optics is used at 260~320nm wavelength range.
This Small Business Innovation Research Phase I project aims at developing an alumina waveguide based middle ultraviolet absorption spectroscopy, which is capable of quantitating nuclei acids of pico-gram/micro-liter (pg/L) level concentration The proposed system exploits the integrated photonic technology to cost-effectively integrate low loss alumina waveguides on glass slides. With the slow light effect and long interaction length, 'fishbone' waveguide can improve the minimum quantifiable concentration by 400 times, when compared to the widely used NanoDropTM system. In the meantime, the minimum required sample volume is reduced by 500 times. As a proof of concept, quantitation of 5 pg/L mRNA will be demonstrated in Phase I. The system is designed to be operated in the same 'drop-and-play' manner as NanoDropTM. Thus customers familiar with NanoDropTM would easily adapt to the proposed new system with much better performance. As many biomolecule isolation and purification techniques produce very limited samples, effectively utilizing these precious and sometimes rare samples will not only reduce the research cost but more importantly shorten the research time span. Through improving the minimum detectable concentration, the proposed system could save more than 95% of sample wasted in the quantitation procedure using NanoDropTM system. According to our investigation, there are no integrated photonics system exists in the middle ultraviolet wavelength range, which could make the proposed system a profitable product with unique advantages.