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Nat Mater. 2003 Jun;2(6):391-5.

Functionalized silicon membranes for selective bio-organism capture.

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Chemistry and Materials Science Directorate, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Livermore, California 94550, USA.


Membranes with various pore size, length, morphology and density have been synthesized from diverse materials for size-exclusion-based separation. An example is the sterilization of intravenous lines by exclusion of bacteria and viruses using polyvinylidene fluoride membranes with 0.1-microm-diameter pores. Chemically specific filtration has recently been addressed for small molecules. Nevertheless, specific bio-organism immobilization and detection remains a great technical challenge in many biomedical applications, such as decontamination or analysis of air and liquids such as drinking water and body fluids. To achieve this goal, materials with controlled pore diameter, length and surface chemistry are required. In this letter, we present the first functionalized silicon membranes and demonstrate their ability to selectively capture simulated bio-organisms. These extremely versatile and rigid devices open the door to a new class of materials that are able to recognize the external fingerprints of bio-organisms-such as size and outer membrane proteins-for specific capture and detection applications.

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