Diatoms are microalgae found in every habitat where water is present. They produce 40% of the ocean’s yearly production of organic carbon and 20% of the oxygen that we breathe. Their abundance and wide distribution make them ideal materials for a wide range of applications as living organisms. In our previous work, we have demonstrated that diatom biosilica with self-assembled silver nanoparticles (Ag NPs) can be used as ultra-sensitive, low-cost substrates for surface-enhanced Raman scattering (SERS) sensing. The enhancement comes from the photonic crystal enhancement of diatom frustules that could improve the hot-spots of Ag NPs. In this work, we report the unique micro-fluidic flow, analyte concentration effect, and thin layer chromatography (TLC) on diatom biosilica, which enables selection, separation, detection, and analysis of complex chemical and biological samples. Particularly, we show that the microscopic fluidic flow induced by the evaporation of liquid droplet can concentrate the analyte and achieve label-free sensing of single molecule detection of R6G and label-free sensing of 4.5×10-17g trinitrotoluene (TNT) from only 200 nano-liter solution. We also demonstrated a facile method for instant on-site separation and detection of analytes by TLC in tandem with SERS spectroscopy using high density diatom thin film. This lab-on-chip technology has been successfully applied for label-free detection of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons from human plasma and histamine from salmon fish. Our research suggests that such cost-effective, multi-functional photonic crystal sensors enabled by diatom biosilica opens a new route for lab-on-chip systems and possess significant engineering potentials for chemical and biological sensing.
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Monte Carlo based light propagation models to improve efficacy of biophotonics based therapeutics of hollow organs and solid tumours including photodynamic therapy and photobiomodulation (Conference Presentation)