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Partnering in Manufacturing Graphene Biosensors

Nanomedical Diagnostics along with Rogue Valley Microdevices successfully overcame major manufacturing hurdles to bring the label-free kinetic binding assay, Agile R100, to market.
graphene biosensor

  • After preprocessing completion, Rogue Valley Microdevices shipped the custom wafers to the Nanomedical Diagnostics team.
  • Using the highest-quality graphene, Nanomedical Diagnostics handled graphene growth and deposition in a clean and non-destructive way, without the use of harsh chemicals.
  • Rogue Valley Microdevices completed the MEMS device fabrication process, which produces several hundred chips from each finished wafer.
  • The end result is the first commercially available graphene biosensor.

Challenges in Manufacturing Graphene for Biosensors

The following challenges made it critical for Nanomedical Diagnostics to find the right MEMS foundry partner.:

  • Run-of-the-mill graphene can’t be used for biosensors meant to generate highly sensitive results.
  • For that kind of exceptional detection, defect-free graphene is necessary.
  • Integrating the low-cost world of electronics manufacturing with the groundbreaking material of graphene.
  • Nanomedical Diagnostics’ requirements for its graphene biosensor are particularly stringent.
  • Exposure to some of the standard lithography chemistries is prohibited.
  • High sensitivity to solvent residue necessitates novel capping and passivation techniques.
  • Requires a process that would allow for the integration of graphene growth to make large-scale manufacturing a reality.
  • Graphene Material – Although traditional MEMS and CMOS device fabrication involves the deposition, pattern, and etch of a variety of materials, graphene is still a relatively new material.
  • Numerous companies have tried to commercialize graphene biosensors at scale, but integrating graphene into standard high-volume production processes has been a challenge that others could not meet.

“With world-class process engineers focused on high reproducibility, quality, and throughput, Rogue Valley Microdevices has been a true partner in developing a viable large-scale fabrication process for our Agile R100 biosensor chips.

Because we can now manufacture graphene biosensors at scale, we can create game-changing capabilities for many life science and healthcare applications at significantly lower cost.”

– Ross Bundy, Founder and CEO, Nanomedical Diagnostics

Graphene Biosensors Alternative to SPR and BLI

Drug discovery today is a laborious and costly process. To evaluate new drugs, most researchers test candidate compounds using expensive and complex laboratory equipment. Special training is a requirement, and testing can take days or weeks.

Transforming the Field of Drug Discovery

Biotech company Nanomedical Diagnostics offers an alternative technology to the expensive and resource-intensive surface plasmon resonance (SPR) and bio-layer interferometry (BLI) tools generally used today. The company’s novel sensing technique — which features the world’s first commercially available graphene biosensor, Agile® R100 — allows pharmaceutical and biotherapeutics companies to characterize biomolecules quickly and easily.

Agile® R100 Captures Elusive Binding Data for Small Molecules and Proteins

Agile R100 kinetic binding assay

Nanomedical Diagnostics’ label-free kinetic binding assay, Agile R100, is based on proprietary Field Effect Biosensing (FEB) technology, an electrical technique rather than an optical one. Essentially, FEB measures changes in conductance rather than changes in mass, enabling detection in complex samples and of small molecules with no lower size limit.

Agile R100’s intuitive open-well format means that any researcher can use it without special training. At a fraction of the cost and size of competitive solutions, Agile R100 enables researchers to gain complete control over the characterization of their molecules to make better decisions earlier in the drug discovery process.

Manufacturing Graphene Sensors

Despite the challenges and restrictions, Rogue Valley Microdevices embraced the opportunity to work with Nanomedical Diagnostics. Since graphene offers excellent electrical conductivity, high surface area, and unique biocompatibility, we were thrilled to partner in a mission to manufacture graphene sensors and possibly the world’s most versatile material for biosensors.

“We knew that working with Nanomedical Diagnostics would be a challenge because there is very little information on incorporating graphene into MEMS device fabrication.

While we were initially unsure how difficult we would find process development, there was such great collaboration chemistry between the teams that we knew we could work through those challenges.”

– Jessica Gomez, Founder and CEO, Rogue Valley Microdevices

Contact Rogue Valley Microdevices to learn more about MEMS and wafer services using advanced materials.

Download a PDF version of the Graphene Biosensors Case Study here.

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