The development of a chip-based sensor array composed of individually addressable polystyrene-poly(ethylene glycol) and agarose microspheres has been demonstrated. The microspheres are selectively arranged in micromachined cavities localized on silicon wafers. These cavities are created with an anisotropic etch and serve as miniaturized reaction vessels and analysis chambers. A single drop of fluid provides sufficient analysis media to complete ∼100 assays in these microetch pits. The cavities possess pyramidal pit shapes with trans-wafer openings that allows for both fluid flow through the microreactors/analysis chambers and optical access to the chemically sensitive microspheres. Identification and quantitation of analytes occurs via colorimetric and fluorescence changes to receptor and indicator molecules that are covalently attached to termination sites on the polymeric microspheres. Spectral data are extracted from the array efficiently using a charge-coupled device allowing for the near-real-time digital analysis of complex fluids. The power and utility of this new microbead array detection methodology is demonstrated here for the analysis of complex fluids containing a variety of important classes of analytes including acids, bases, metal cations, metabolic cofactors, and antibody reagents.
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