Infineon Technologies Describes World's First Biochip With Integrated Electronics for Evaluation and Analysis of Molecular-Scale Samples; Plans Tests to Validate New Methodology for Medical Diagnosis
Infineon has demonstrated that it can combine electronic circuitry for test analyses with biochemical test wells on a single silicon chip structure. This breakthrough achievement is a significant step in research to accelerate and optimize molecular-level analysis. Infineon expects that the laboratory tests of the electronic biochips will commence in approximately one year.
128 test tubes on a chip
The test biochips fabricated by Infineon measure approximately one quarter of a square centimeter. Each biochip contains 128 homogeneous wells that are 100 microns (one tenth of a millimeter) in diameter. Biological mini-probes can be linked to these wells, effectively allowing 128 miniaturized different tests on a chip. The electronic circuits fabricated on the same chip are used to replace optical analysis of samples with measurements of electric currents depending on the test samples properties. The result is a test apparatus that is smaller and less complex than optical systems.
The biochip has the potential to make medical diagnosis in hospitals and in medical practices less costly, faster, and more efficient. In the long-term, biochips open up new applications, such as determining whether or not a patient has adverse reactions to a medication.
On-chip analysis and evaluation
The Infineon biochip is fabricated on a standard Complementary Metal Oxide Semiconductor (CMOS) technology extended with additional process steps to form sensor electrodes made of gold. Silicon as basis material allows the integration of electronic circuitry for signal amplification and evaluation within the chip. Infineons success in integrating the gold electrodes on chip, without affecting the CMOS structures, is a process technology breakthrough. For the first time, standard CMOS production methods can be used to produce biochips with built-in analysis capability.
Our core competency in all aspects related to the silicon basic material, such as microstructures, circuit development and process technologies, is leading to the opening of a new market area, said Soenke Mehrgardt, Chief Technology Officer at Infineon Technologies. Development of these technologies leads to low-cost semiconductor-based biochip solutions to help realize the potential to simplify, improve, make cheaper and speed up medical diagnosis.
Testing and evaluation methods of biochips
With on-chip electronic analysis testing method, specific enzymes are added to the probes to be tested. These enzymes are able to split another substance, which has been added in a separate step, into electronically active components. This chemical procedure creates an electrical current of 1 pA (one millionth of a millionth Ampere) to 100 nA (one tenth of a millionth Ampere) at the sensor gold electrodes, which is measured with highly sensitive circuits. The timeline and intensity of the electrical current identifies the composition and concentration of the tested substance.
In todays optical techniques, unknown gene sequences are loaded onto a biochip after first having been tagged with a fluorescent dye emitting light of a particular wave length when irradiated. During the tests, a specific charge-coupled-camera (CCD) reads the light patterns emitted. These light patterns explain the composition of the substances tested.
The biochip with integrated electronic circuitry demonstrates the innovative strength of Infineon. In January 2002, two of the companys semiconductor products were named as Best Technological Innovation 2001 and recipients of an Innovation Award from the Deutscher Wirtschaftsclub Rhein-Main, the German Trade and Industry Group.
Infineon Technologies AG, Munich, Germany, offers semiconductor and system solutions for applications in the wired and wireless communications markets, for security systems and smartcards, for the automotive and industrial sectors, as well as memory products. With a global presence, Infineon operates in the US from San Jose, CA, in the Asia-Pacific region from Singapore and in Japan from Tokyo. In the fiscal year 2001 (ending September), the company achieved sales of Euro 5.67 billion with about 33,800 employees worldwide. Infineon is listed on the DAX index of the Frankfurt Stock Exchange and on the New York Stock Exchange (ticker symbol: IFX). Further information is available at www.infineon.com.
(c) Copyright 2002 Infineon Technologies AG. All rights reserved. Infineon and the stylized Infineon Technologies design are registered trademarks and service marks of Infineon Technologies AG.
Any statements in this document that are not historical facts are forward-looking statements that involve risks and uncertainties; actual results may differ from the forward-looking statements. Infineon Technologies undertakes no obligation to publicly release the results of any revisions to these forward-looking statements that may be made to reflect events or circumstances after the date hereof or to reflect the occurrence of unanticipated events.
Infineon Technologies offers the world's first molecular test biochip with integrated evaluation electronics enabling significantly faster and cost-efficient clinical diagnosis.Press Picture
JPG | 680 kb | 1417 x 1063 px
Infineon Technologies offers the world's first molecular test biochip with integrated evaluation electronics enabling significantly faster and cost-efficient clinical diagnosisPress Picture
JPG | 447 kb | 1417 x 1063 px