Prize-winning nanotechnology for biochips

Press release /

Biochips have become the tool of choice for automating drug and protein screening. Sven Knecht was awarded the 3rd Hugo-Geiger Prize 2003 of the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft for developing future methods of manufacturing biochips based on micro- and nano-technologies.

Sven Knecht is awarded the third Hugo-Geiger Prize 2003.
This microstructured nanoparticle layer was deposited on a silicon wafer by microcontact stamping.

A current topic in life sciences is the search for new drugs, where vast numbers of protein samples must be processed and analyzed. Biochips have become the tool of choice for automating this process. Molecules affixed to the surface of the chip bond only with certain proteins, enabling targeted identification. Continuing progress in the field of proteomics has accentuated the need for more selective and miniaturized biosensors.

“My thesis looks into future methods of manufacturing biochips based on micro- and nano-technologies,” explains Sven Knecht, winner of the 3rd Hugo-Geiger Prize 2003 of the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft. “Photolithography can be used not only to manufacture electronic circuits, but also to deposit structures onto polymer surfaces. Chemically functionalized nanoparticles subsequently self-assemble on these surfaces. A bioactive microchip is the result.” Knecht, now PhD student at the Technical University Zürich ETH, managed to deposit chemically functionalized particles also by means of microcontact stamping or by using robotdriven microarrayers. “The results of his work are of great interest not only to the scientific community, but also to industry,” says Dr. Günter Tovar, head of the group Biomimetic Interfaces at the Fraunhofer Institute for Interfacial Engineering and Biotechnology IGB in Stuttgart. “They garnered a lot of attention at several international conferences and are eminent to our current developments.”

Hugo-Geiger Prize - promoting talented young scientists

The Bavarian government instituted this prize four years ago, on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft. It is named for former Bavarian secretary of state Hugo Geiger – patron of the inaugural assembly of the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft on 26 March 1949. The Hugo-Geiger Prize is awarded for outstanding, application-oriented doctoral theses or dissertations in the field of life sciences. The prizewinning papers are selected on the basis of scientific quality, industrial or economic relevance, novelty, and an interdisciplinary approach. The work must be directly related to a Fraunhofer institute or have been written at a Fraunhofer institute.