Fraunhofer Institutes develop structured metal-coated polymer film for affordable biosensors
The Fraunhofer Institute for Organic Electronics, Electron Beam and Plasma Technology FEP, which is based in Dresden, Germany, has teamed up with the Itzehoe-based Fraunhofer Institute for Silicon Technology ISIT. The result of the cooperation is the successful development of flexible electrochemical biosensors on metallized film substrates. Fraunhofer FEP has the technology to provide polymer films with a thin metal layer, which is based on a roll-to-roll process. A high degree of uniformity of the layer’s thicknesses and a lack of defects represent particular technological challenges in this manufacturing process.
The technology is intended to cater to the growing market for wearable devices, which require a high number of small, light-weight and high capacity sensors for different applications in sport, medicine or at work. Within the Fraunhofer ISIT the business fields “Medical Sensor Systems “ and “Wearables and Printed Electronics” cooperate in investigating how silicon-based sensor technologies can transfer to flexible modules and integrate into body-shape sensor systems. The Fraunhofer FEP has considerably advanced this development by providing metallized film substrates, with the Fraunhofer ISIT developing a flexible electrochemical sensor with which good results could be attained. The sensor measures 8 x 10 mm² and contains an array of electrodes for biological immunological tests. The special feature: the sensor’s thickness is only approximately one tenth of a millimeter as it was produced entirely on a polymer film, which had previously been coated at the Fraunhofer FEP. The fundamental principle for the production of flexible sensors are thin layers in the sub-micrometre range.
Christopher Beale, who developed the sensor as part of his Master’s thesis at Fraunhofer ISIT, is pleased: “Our flexible electrochemical biochip shows similar results in a first test series when compared to our silicon chip.”