In current commercial DNA microarray technology systems, DNA molecules are labelled with a fluorescent dye. The presence of the dye (and therefore the DNA) is detected optically by detecting the fluorescent light emitted by the dye label when it’s illuminated with a laser. Since fluorescence is emitted in all directions it is not easy to detect and requires expensive imaging/collection optics.
The current commercially available detection hardware is well suited to the laboratory-based procedures currently used in microarray gene sequencing. However, as the demand for point-of-care testing grows, cheap disposable systems are being developed and cheap disposable alternatives to fluorescence detection are needed.
We are detecting the dye labelled DNA sequence by optically detecting the diffracted light produced by a diffraction grating (the diffraction grating only appears in the presence of the dye label). As diffracted light is unidirectional the detection of it is much simpler and a much lower powered light source will suffice.
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