PHOTO-SENS will connect pioneering photonic biosensor technology with aquaculture expertise to establish an aquaculture pathogen detection hub and a working prototype system for monitoring salmon pathogens.
The PHOTO-SENS system will consist of a desktop reader, which can be used in combination with disposable microfluidic cartridges containing photonic biochips.
To reduce the manufacturing costs of the cartridge, the price of the chip has to be reduced and the overall manufacturing and assembly process has to be improved.
Photonic chips are made out of silicon wafers by advanced cleanroom processes. The price of a photonic chip is mainly determined by the number of chips that fit on a wafer. Therefore, a biochip with a smaller footprint will be designed and fabricated.
After fabrication in the cleanroom, the chip has to undergo several processes to obtain a useful photonic biochip. These include integration of light source and detector on the chip, application of chemical and biological coatings, and cutting the wafer into single chips.
The mutual compatibility of these processes (e.g. in terms of temperature and use of chemicals) will be investigated. This will determine the allowable process conditions, and the order in which the processes take place in an optimized scalable production process.
The next step is the assembly of the photonic biochip in a microfluidic cartridge. Sample liquid will flow over the chip, so obviously a leak-tight interface is required. At the same time, electronic access to the chip is needed for actuation and read-out.
These requirements, in combination with a minimized chip size to reduce cost, make chip-cartridge integration a challenging task. Innovative microfluidic assembly solutions will be evaluated and tested.
The PHOTO-SENS prototype system will be used to monitor the presence of pathogenic microorganisms for salmon by detecting specific DNA biomarkers. New biomarkers will be identified and detected with the photonic biochip. At the same time, reference tests based on DNA amplification will be developed.