Miniaturised gas chromatography technology based on nanoelectromechanical systems (NEMS) sensors may have medical diagnostic applications. Marketed by Analytical Pixels (Apix; Paris), the technique reportedly will enable the analysis of biomarkers in a patient’s breath. Apix is the first startup to emerge from the Alliance for Nanosystems VLSI, a partnership between the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) in Pasadena, CA, USA, and French research and technology organisation CEA-Leti (Grenoble).
By applying microelectronic technologies developed at CEA-Leti and Caltech, the founders of Apix created a new way to implement gas chromatography, notes a press release issued in late December 2011. Building on this initial breakthrough, Leti and Caltech added significant new techniques in the field of components, electronics and algorithms that led to the development of effective prototypes.
Initial applications include gas analysis in industrial environments and analysis of ambient air quality. Medical applications will follow.
Caltech’s Kavli Nanoscience Institute (KNI) and CEA-Leti formed the Alliance for Nanosystems VLSI (very large-scale-integration) in 2007 to achieve the potential of nanoscale systems. Leti researchers have been collaborating with Caltech/KNI scientists to transform academic, nanotechnology-based prototypes into complex sensing systems. The initial focus of the alliance has been on large-scale integration of biochemical sensors. This involves developing proven academic nanoscale methodologies into validated microelectronic foundry processes at the wafer scale. The effort involves researchers working in the areas of chemical functionalisation, NEMS device physics, sensor-array architectures, integrated microfluidics, multiplexed multichannel electronic readout systems, and informatics-based signature detection algorithms.
Analytical Pixels will further advance the alliance’s contributions in the field of gas sensing and will enable its research teams to explore other opportunities in the field of NEMS-based mass spectrometry systems, nano-enabled measurement at the single-cell level, with nano-instrumentation focused on enabling transformational advances in medicine.
To learn more about CEA-Leti, check out the following articles reporting on the organisation’s Annual Meeting in June 2011.Norbert Sparrow