Office of Technology Transfer – University of Michigan

Terahertz DNA Bio-Sensor Architecture Comprising Doubly-Corrugated Spoofed Surface Plasmon Polariton Waveguide

Technology #5568

A label-free, Mach-Zehnder interferometer (MZI) based biosensor has been developed by a research team at the University of Michigan. The biosensor has potential to detect molecular binding without the use of conventional fluorescent tags, easing preparation requirements and facilitating efficient analysis. Biosensing has become increasingly important to many industries including biodefense, food processing, medicine and DNA research, among others. Characterization in these areas must provide rapid and accurate results, which conventional fluorescent tag-based sensors have difficulty providing due to time intensive preparation and the inherent effect the tag has on the system. The development of this label-free biosensor has potential to affect many current and future industries where efficient molecular binding and detection is required.

Subwavelength terahertz DNA hybridization detection

Based on subwavelength terahertz (THz) waveguide technology, the interferometer-based biosensor has been investigated theoretically and computationally. Molecular detection on macroscopic scales often relies on small refractive index shifts that occur in a molecule when it undergoes a binding event. Using DNA as a model system, the sensor has demonstrated strong dependence to the refractive index shift from 1.05 to 1.15 upon hybridization. Leveraging this sensitivity to differentiate between systems promises a biosensor with potential to augment the molecular detection field.


  • DNA hybridization detection
  • Biodefense
  • Food processing


  • Label-free molecular binding detection
  • Strong sensitivity to small changes in refractive index
  • Non-invasive