IP Profile: Imaging Adsorption Sensor (IAS) – Label-free detection of Molecular Binding to Surfaces

Imaging Adsorption Sensor (IAS) offers a novel technology based on white light interference for film thickness measurements with sub-molecular resolution and an extremely high dynamic range. The strength of the label-free technology lies in the low-cost optical setup and the capability of real-time imaging readout.

Organization: ETH Zurich, Switzerland
Inventors: Tobias Balmer PhD and Manfred Heuberger PhD
Industry Market: Pharma & Biotech
Technology Contact: Marjan Kraak, PhD, ETH Zurich

IP Profile Courtesy of M. Kraak, ETH Zurich

Tobias Balmer PhD and Manfred Heuberger PhD invented the technology in the Laboratory of Surface Science and Technology of Prof. N. Spencer, ETH Zurich (Switzerland). They explain to TechConnect, “We are looking for a partner with a strong portfolio in sensor surface chemistry to combine our label free technology with established specific or unspecific molecular surface interactions.”


Figure 1: IAS optical setup and main advantages

  • Real-time, label-free imaging
  • Can be miniaturized or integrated in existing instruments (1A)
  • Can be used in a simple and cost effective optical setup (1B)
  • Portable (1B)

Source: ETH Zurich

The currently offered methods in the marketplace are technologies either requiring labelled molecules in combination with fluorescent microscopy or label free imaging at high cost (e.g. SPR). The IAS technology is a highly versatile platform that can be combined with any sensor chemistry e.g. for rapid multiple diagnostic tests. The sensor is particularly well suited for gas detection or monitoring of loading/unloading cycles of carrier materials through the gas phase e.g. for drug delivery.

The IAS technology can be combined with existing detection systems such as commercially available microscopes for high end upgrades. The same technology has high potential as low end disposable sensor that can be directly analyzed by the human eye under daylight. Tobias Balmer states to TechConnect, “The sensor is a low cost optical element, carrying great potential for many applications. Our goal is to develop first applications with a sensor chemistry specialist to combine both our strengths.”

The IP team believes there are mutiple fields of application, including:

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