On-Chip Platform for Single-Molecule Electrical Conductance Measurements

Tech ID: 24934 / UC Case 2015-066-0


Researchers at the University of California, Davis have developed a microchip capable of detecting bacteria and viruses that cause plant and human diseases.

Full Description

Existing methods of detecting and identifying microorganisms such as bacteria, viruses, and fungi rely on data obtained from DNA sequencing. While reliable, these methods are costly and time consuming. Newer techniques, such as the “break-junction” approach, have been developed to extract the same data from RNA as from DNA because RNA is considerably more abundant in cells and many viruses important to human and plant health use RNA to store genetic information. This approach requires large, expensive specialty tools and significant resources, making such instrumentation impractical for general commercial use.

Researchers at the University of California, Davis have developed a micro-electromechanical system (MEMS) that is capable of identifying microbial species. This device functions by detecting specific RNA sequences using electrical conductance measurements. This novel device would provide a quick, easy, and cost-effective method to detect infectious viruses and bacteria in plants and animals.


  • Electrical detection of genetic information (RNA) at the molecular level
  • Detection and identification of bacteria and viruses in agriculture, medicine, epidemiology, biosecurity and public health
  • Integration with electronics for field-deployable and high-throughput devices


  • Portable
  • Precise and highly sensitive
  • Does not use fluorescent markers
  • Removes the need for enzymatic amplification (PCR)
  • Identification of specific species and strains
  • Amenable to multiplexing and facile integration

Patent Status

Country Type Number Dated Case
United States Of America Published Application 20170343531 11/30/2017 2015-066


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  • Hihath, Joshua L.
  • Liu, Xiaoguang
  • Marco, Maria L.

Other Information


microorganisms, qpcr, DNA, RNA, sequencing, bacteria, viruses, fungi, break-junction, micro-electromechanical system

Categorized As