Development of a digital microarray with interferometric reflectance imaging
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This dissertation describes a new type of molecular assay for nucleic acids and proteins. We call this technique a digital microarray since it is conceptually similar to conventional fluorescence microarrays, yet it performs enumerative (‘digital’) counting of the number captured molecules. Digital microarrays are approximately 10,000-fold more sensitive than fluorescence microarrays, yet maintain all of the strengths of the platform including low cost and high multiplexing (i.e., many different tests on the same sample simultaneously). Digital microarrays use gold nanorods to label the captured target molecules. Each gold nanorod on the array is individually detected based on its light scattering, with an interferometric microscopy technique called SP-IRIS. Our optimized high-throughput version of SP-IRIS is able to scan a typical array of 500 spots in less than 10 minutes. Digital DNA microarrays may have utility in applications where sequencing is prohibitively expensive or slow. As an example, we describe a digital microarray assay for gene expression markers of bacterial drug resistance.