Method for fabricating wafer scale nano/sub micron gap electrodes and nano/submicron gap electrodes array via photolithography for suspended 2D material devices in application of sensors and electronics

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A novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak occurred in Wuhan China in late December 2019, which rapidly proliferated around the globe. The World Health Organization declared the outbreak a pandemic on March 11, 2020. As of May 15, more than 4.4 million cases of COVID-19 were reported with over 300,000 deaths.  COVID-19 is highly contagious and spreads rapidly from person to person mainly through respiratory droplets produced from an infected person who coughs or sneezes. Many countries, including the United States, have implemented “state of emergencies” and ordered strict isolation policies to prevent the spread of the virus. In order to avert the overrun of healthcare systems, many countries ordered the shut-down of non-essential businesses to “flatten the curve” of cases with the virus. 


In order to curtail this pandemic and stop its spread, rapid testing for COVID-19 detection is required. Since the report of the first case of COVID-19 in the United States, the demand for testing for the virus outpaced the supply. Today, test developers struggle to increase testing capacity for use in healthcare facilities and for use at home. Tests are important to confirm that one has or had the disease. The information is useful in tracking the spread of the virus in communities. The “gold standard” in detecting an active COVID-19 infection is based on a polymerase chain reaction (PCR). The test is a molecular diagnostic technique that detects the genetic material from the virus. The PCR test takes time to run and analyze the results. The FDA has approved a serological test that looks for antibodies to the virus, which can identify individuals who have developed an immune response as part of a prior infection. However, these tests have limitations in specificity, as it can also detect non-target viruses, and sensitivity by giving false negatives. The latest FDA authorization is for the development of an antigen test, which is a new type of diagnostic tool designed for rapid detection of the virus that causes COVID-19. While PCR tests look for evidence of viral genetic material, and the serological antibody test detects human antibodies against the virus, the antigen test look for fragments of viral surface proteins as a marker for infection. Identifying the presence of fragment proteins is fast leading to a rapid turn-around time establishing a diagnosis of infection in minutes. The tool can be made into a simple design, and therefore, is easy to manufacture at a low cost. Being easy to use without training, it can be readily employed at home lending support in testing millions of people per day. This will help identify infection rates closer to real time.



MicroBuoy Inc., a Wayne State start-up, has developed a method for fabricating a wafer scale nano-submicron gap electrode sensor array and is currently designing a prototype that can be handheld for remote detection of COVID-19. This type of COVID-19 sensor can be helpful to test the infection at the home as well as reduce the community spread by knowing and tracking the infected people. The biosensor can be designed as an antigen detector devised to quickly detect protein fragments found within the virus. The 2D suspended layer of the biosensor will interact with the protein fragments, thereby signaling a change in the electron mobility between the electrodes.  The 2D material suspended above the nano-gap provides superior sensitivity by eliminating any scattering due to the substrate.


Commercial Application:

•       In-home testing for COVID-19



Suspended design with a doped 2D graphene provides:

•       Tunable electronic bandgap

•       Eliminates scattering caused by substrate

•       Increases sensitivity (limit of detection or LOD) and selectivity

•       Increases signal to noise (S/N) ratio: improves precision, resolution and accuracy

•       Improves response and recovery time (reversible)


Patent Information:
For Information, Contact:
Tech Transfer Staff
Wayne State University
Leela Mohana Arava
Nirul Masurkar