Conventional lab-on-a-chip systems or diagnostic systems generally use glass and polymer as their substrates and structural materials. Recent advances in nanophotonic crystals for sensing applications provide a new possibility of fully integrated lab-on-a-chip systems and diagnostic systems having an 'all-in-one' functionality as a nanophotonic crystal changes its color responding upon chemical species of interest. This colorimetric response could make 'naked eye detection' feasible without using any instrument. Most nanophotonic crystals, however, are made of ceramic, metal oxide, or metal, which needs assembly onto glass- or polymer-based diagnostic systems. Integration of sensing components onto conventional lab-on-a-chip diagnostic systems is a challenging task in developing stand-alone as well as ready-to-use integrated diagnostic systems.
Researchers at the University of California, Berkeley have demonstrated a novel approach that addresses this challenge. The approach can be used to form nanofluidic and microfluidic channels and other functional chambers to form a lab-on-a-chip diagnostic system. Furthermore, it is ideal for both optical sensor template and electrical circuits with self aligned insulating layers. Other functional layers can be bonded on functional layers to append other functionalities including instrument-free degas driven flow and on-chip electrochemical cell lysis.