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Printed Biosensors

Additive fabrication methods such as inkjet and 3D printing utilizing novel functional materials offer a way to manufacture low cost devices and sensors. These techniques do not rival but complement standard microfabrication approaches offering a compromise between cost and resolution, which is sufficient for many applications including chemical, physical and biological sensors.

Functional ink development
A printing ink is a complex mixture of various ingredients matched for a specific printing method. Apart from the active material the ink also includes a solvent vehicle consisting of one or several solvents, dispersing agents, humectants, binders, defoamers and sometimes even fungicides and bactericides. This colloidal system has to be stable over time and fulfill the ink requirements on viscosity, surface tension, percentage of the active material and pH. Besides, the ink has to wet the substrate of choice well, sinter at temperatures under the glass transition temperatures of the chosen substrate and demonstrate good adhesion to its surface. In our group we develop our own functional inks starting from the synthesis of active material, such as nanoparticles, polymers, sol-gels till formulation of inks capable of working with commercially available printheads. Until now we have developed conductive gold and carbon, and passivating polymer ink-jet inks.

Team: Alexey Yakushenko, Nouran Adly, Jekaterina Viktorova, Steffi Hamacher and Christopher Beale

Printed sensors
A wide range of materials is available for deposition by printing methods. Some of these materials are not readily accessible via standard microfabrication, which makes printing an attractive alternative. For example, carbon, a very interesting material from electrochemical point of view, can only be fabricated from carbonized resists as pyrolytic carbon at very high temperatures in inert atmospheres. These conditions are difficult to achieve and are often incompatible with other steps of biosensor fabrication. We have used a carbon ink developed in house to fabricate microelectrode arrays for application in electrochemical measurements of nanoparticles and electrical and electrochemical measurements from cells. Additionally, maskless printing methods offer rapid prototyping capabilities, which accelerate development of arrays of microelectrodes tailored for a certain application by quickly fabricating and testing a range of different sensor designs.

Team: Alexey Yakushenko, Nouran Adly, Jekaterina Viktorova, Steffi Hamacher and Christopher Beale

Additional Information


Dr. Alexey Yakushenko

Tel.:  +49-2461-61-3668

More Information


Inkjet printing of UV-curable adhesive and dielectric inks for microfluidic devices

Hamad et al, Lab. Chip, 2015, 16, 70–74