CMOS sensor enables medical molecular sensing

July 02, 2015 // By Peter Clarke
Anitoa Systems LLC, (Palo Alto, Calif.) in partnership with Zhejiang University of China, has demonstrated a handheld real-time quantitative-polymerase-chain-reaction system (qPCR) using Anitoa's low-light CMOS bio-optical sensor.

The handheld qPCR is capable of detecting several types of pathogen DNA and RNA’s, including hepatitis B, C, and E. Coli.

The CMOS bio-optical sensor chip, the ULS24, performs molecular sensing based-on fluorescence or chemiluminescence signalling principles. The sensor is capable of detecting 3e-6lux narrowband light at 550nm with 20nm bandwidth with a better than 13dB signal to noise ratio (SnR) in the operating temperature between -25 to 85 oC, consuming only 30mW. It comes with built in 12-bit ADCs.

It forms a single-chip fluorescent imaging system, tightly integrated with a miniature thermal cycler, to perform real-time imaging of multiple PCR reaction sites simultaneously without the need for a scanning mechanism commonly used by qPCR systems today. Anitoa claims its CMOS imager sensor is the first developed sensitive enough to replace photon multiplier tubes (PMT) and cooled-CCDs in medical and scientific instruments, such as a qPCR instrument.

The potential to use multiple CMOS bio-optical sensors along with wavelength multiplexing allows multiple reaction sites to be sensed and combined with a microfluidic delivery system from upstream sample preparation.

A CMOS-based qPCR reference design that includes a thermal cycler and matching fluorescent imaging subsystem is available from Anitoa for selected OEM customers. The bio-optical sensor can also be integrated into other platforms and applied to other applications requiring sensitive imaging of fluorescence or chemiluminescence-labeled molecular targets.

Anitoa was founded in 2011 and is led by CEO Zhimin Ding. It is partnered with Zhejiang Nanosystems Institute (ZCNI), and the First Affiliated Hospital of Zhejiang University in China for clinical application validation and field deployment.