Development of an optical biochip for the analysis of cell environment sensitivity
Morris D., Goater A., Menachery A., Burt J., Rizvi N., Matthews D., Summers H., Pope I., Vojnovic B., Njoh K., Chappell S., Errington R., Smith P.
An optical biochip is being developed for monitoring the sensitivity of biological cells to a range of environmental changes. Such changes may include external factors such as temperature but can include changes within the suspending media of the cell. The ability to measure such sensitivity has a broad application base including environmental monitoring, toxicity evaluation and drug discovery. The device under development, capable of operating with both suspension and adherent cell populations, employs electrokinetic processes to monitor subtle changes in the physico-chemical properties of cells as environmental parameters are varied. As such, the device is required to maintain cells in a viable condition for extended periods of time. The final device will employ integrated optical illumination of cells using red emitting LED or laser devices with light delivery to measurement regions achieved using integrated micro-optical components. Measurements of electrokinetic phenomena such as dielectrophoresis and electrorotation will be achieved through integrated optical detectors. Environmental parameters can be varied while cells are actively retained within a measurement structure. This enables the properties and sensitivity of a cell population to be temporally tracked. The optical biochip described here uses a combination of microfabrication techniques including photolithographic and laser, micromachining processes. Here we describe the design and manufacturing processes to create the components of the environmental monitoring strutures of the optical biochip.