Diagnostics and Sensors

Marker-free detection with photonic biosensors

Applications for bio and health

Label-free detection methods - i.e. without additional reagents for molecular characterisation - have a high development potential as they can provide simpler diagnostic tools that can be used outside the laboratory and thus become accessible to non-specialist users. Fraunhofer IPMS is developing photonic label-free biosensors based on silicon nitride microring resonators in silicon technology. They are used for the selective detection of biomarkers or microbial substances and offer, for example, a suitable detection method for the early detection of diseases. 

For this purpose, Fraunhofer IPMS, Fraunhofer IZI and Fraunhofer IOF are developing a highly sensitive integrated photonic biosensor platform at the Fraunhofer Center for Microelectronic and Optical Systems for Biomedicine MEOS in Erfurt.

Decentralised monitoring of Covid-19 patients

Applications for bio and health

The Corona pandemic poses a challenge for medical diagnostics: In addition to severe symptoms, the SARS-CoV-2 virus also causes mild symptoms that can worsen very quickly. However, continuous patient monitoring has so far only been available in intensive care units. As a result, sudden deterioration in health is often only recognised with a time delay and those affected are brought to hospital too late. This is exactly where the cluster project M3Infekt comes in. By mobile recording, analysis and fusion of relevant biosignals with the help of different technologies, valid diagnoses can be made about the condition and course of the disease.

In the long term, the system under development will address decentralised patient monitoring on normal wards and in non-clinical environments using multimodal parameters of the cardiovascular system (including heart rate, ECG, oxygen saturation, blood flow situation) and respiration (including respiratory rate/volume, respiratory air analysis). Machine learning methods will be used as the basis for evaluation, which facilitates diagnostics and ensures that the system can be easily integrated and deployed in various application scenarios.

Breath analysis

Applications for bio and health

Diseases can be detected by analysing the air we breathe. For example, traces of specific gases in the breath are an early sign of various diseases, including cancer. Spectroscopic breath analysis can detect these gases and thus enable early diagnosis and thus prompt therapy. Corresponding chemical sensor systems that can be used in everyday life are based on a MEMS ion mobility spectrometer, which can be used to provide procedures for rapid tests.

Components and Modules for Improved Optical Point-of-Care Diagnostics (KODIAK)

Applications for bio and health

Lab-on-chip (LOC) diagnostics is now the state of the art in various laboratory diagnostic procedures. It enables the automated processing and evaluation of samples. Diagnostic results can thus be provided faster, earlier, and more cost-effectively than with conventional analysis in a medical laboratory. However, lab-on-chip systems are not available for all applications. Together with partners, the Fraunhofer Center MEOS is therefore developing new components and modules for LOC diagnostics in cytokine release syndrome.

Cytokine release syndrome (CRS) can occur with various diseases and therapies (e.g., immunotherapy, sepsis, and infectious diseases such as COVID-19). In a CRS, cytokines are produced as part of the body’s immune response, thereby activating more immune cells. These migrate to the site of inflammation and produce cytokines that trigger an excessive immune response. This does not subside automatically – as is usually the case – but rather continues to intensify. Because this serious side effect can be fatal, it must be diagnosed and treated as soon as possible.

Optical coherence tomography

Applications for bio and health

© Fraunhofer IPMS
MEMS microscanner of the Fraunhofer IPMS.
Thanks to OCT, the surface and depth structure of objects can be analysed with a resolution in the micrometre range. The microscanning mirrors of Fraunhofer IPMS enable a new way of recording environmental parameters and thus the automated monitoring of the quality of productions and the increase in the safety of employees, plants and processes.