Detection of physical changes of cells is emerging as a new diagnostic approach to determine their phenotypical features. One of such changes is related to their viability; live (viable) cells are more voluminous than the dead ones, and monitoring this parameter in tissue cells becomes essential in fields such as drug discovery and hazard evaluation. In the area of pathogen detection, an analytical system capable of specifically detecting viable cells with the simple sample preparation and detection process would be highly desirable since live microorganisms can rapidly increase their numbers even at extremely low concentration and become a severe health risk. However, current sensing strategies cannot clearly determine the viability of cells, and hence they are susceptible to false-positive signals from harmless dead pathogens. Here we developed a robust electronic immunoassay that uses a pair of polycrystalline silicon interdigitated electrodes for the rapid detection of pathogens with high specificity for live cells. After bacterial cells were specifically anchored to the surface of the antibody-modified electrode, the characteristic geometry of the transducer enables the selective detection of viable cells with a limit of detection of 3 x 10(2) cfu/mL and an incubation time of only 1 h. The CMOS compatible fabrication process. of the chip along with the label-free, reagentless electronic detection and the easy electrode regeneration to recycle for another impedance measurement make this approach an excellent candidate for oncoming economical in-field viable-cell detection systems, fully integrable with sophisticated signal processing circuits.
- electric field perturbation
- interdigitated silicon transducers
- selective detection
- live pathogens