Integrated microstructures for label-free monitoring of membrane protein conformations by plasmon-enhanced THz spectroscopy

While the unique potential of THz spectroscopy for label-free interrogation of protein conformations and conformational dynamics is broadly accepted, the application to biologically and medically relevant target proteins is still highly limited by the very high quantities and concentrations required for traditional THz measurements. The ESSENCE project aims at overcoming this limitation by a comprehensive THz sensor design dedicated to interrogating protein and membrane proteins from mammalian cells. By an interdisciplinary approach combining expertise in molecular biophysics (Universität Osnabrück) , computational physics (Universität Kassel), and in semiconductor material science and engineering (IHP), the project targets to set up a high performance, cost-effective THz protein sensor platform based on Si CMOS compatible, resonant THz near field optics. To this end, we will use suitably designed plasmonic resonators based on highly doped Ge microstructures that yield local field enhancement by several orders of magnitude. For highly enriching protein concentrations within THz hotspots from, we shall develop bioorganic surface architectures for efficient affinity capturing of low-abundant proteins from crude sample matrices and from cells.


The project is funded within of the DFG priority program “Elektromagnetic Sensors forLife Sciences (ESSENCE)

Project partners

  • University of Osnabrück
  • University of Erlangen-Nuremberg

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