Nano-Scale Circuits for Solving Large-Scale Health Problems
The search for new vaccines and drugs almost always begins with screening mixtures of organic compounds for specific biological activity. Nano-sized optical sensor technologies offer a low-cost and effective way to screen these compounds for tiny amounts of particular complex organic chemicals.
Although researchers have made progress on developing biochemical sensor systems, these systems are far from practical in terms of their reliability, performance and cost. Furthermore, current opto-electronic circuits—a necessary part in the design of these sensors—are severely limited by thermal stability problems, making them unreliable for performance and detection.
Dr. Winnie Ye, Canada Research Chair in Nano-scale Integrated Circuit Design for Reliable Opto-electronics and Sensors, is working on this thermal problem as she develops advanced nano-sized opto-electronic sensors. These sensors will offer affordable, sensitive, reliable, and compact screening of compound mixtures, without being sensitive to ambient temperature. The weather-immune technology will be especially attractive for developing countries that have extreme temperatures and lack resources for cooling.
Ye’s work will ultimately lead to the identification of organic compounds to treat life-threatening diseases such as malaria, anthrax, tuberculosis, and stomach cancer, and could eventually aid in the discovery of vaccines or new drugs.