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Planar Waveguides For Ultra-high Sensitivity Of The Analysis Of Nucleic Acids

G. Duveneck, A. Abel, M. Bopp, G. M. Kresbach, M. Ehrat
Published 2002 · Chemistry

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Abstract In the first part of this paper, the need for analytical techniques capable of highly parallel and sensitive nucleic acid analysis, with the capability of achieving very low limits of detection (LODs) and of resolving small differences in concentration, is described. Whereas the requirement for performing simultaneously multi-analyte detection is solved by the approach of nucleic acid microarrays, requirements on sensitivity can often not be satisfied by classical detection technologies. Inherent limitations of conventional fluorescence excitation and detection schemes are identified, and the implementation of planar waveguides as analytical platforms for nucleic acid microarrays, with fluorescence excitation in the evanescent field associated with the guided excitation light, is proposed. The relevant parameters for an optimization of sensitivity are discussed. In the second part of this paper, the specific formats of our planar waveguide platforms, which are compatible with established industrial standard formats allowing for integration into industrial high throughput environments, are presented, as well as the dedicated optical system for fluorescence excitation and detection that we developed. In a direct comparison with a state-of-the-art scanner, it is demonstrated that the implementation of genomic microarrays on planar waveguide platforms allows for unprecedented, direct detection of low-abundant genes in limited amounts of sample. Otherwise, when using conventional fluorescence excitation and detection configurations, the detection of such low amounts of nucleic acids requires massive sample preparation and signal or target amplification steps.
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