A smart dust biosensor powered by kinesin motors

Thorsten Fischer, Ashutosh Agarwal, Henry Hess

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

174 Scopus citations


Biosensors can be miniaturized by either injecting smaller volumes into micro- and nanofluidic devices or immersing increasingly sophisticated particles known as 'smart dust' into the sample. The term 'smart dust' originally referred to cubic-millimetre wireless semiconducting sensor devices that could invisibly monitor the environment in buildings and public spaces, but later it also came to include functional micrometre-sized porous silicon particles used to monitor yet smaller environments. The principal challenge in designing smart dust biosensors is integrating transport functions with energy supply into the device. Here, we report a hybrid microdevice that is powered by ATP and relies on antibody-functionalized microtubules and kinesin motors to transport the target analyte into a detection region. The transport step replaces the wash step in traditional double-antibody sandwich assays. Owing to their small size and autonomous function, we envision that large numbers of such smart dust biosensors could be inserted into organisms or distributed into the environment for remote sensing.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)162-166
Number of pages5
JournalNature Nanotechnology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2009
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Bioengineering
  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Materials Science(all)
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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