Summer school 2012: A look back

By Line Brøgger and Shoko Yamada, participants at the summer school

During the two last weeks of August, more than 20 PhD students from all over the world attended the summer school "Micro and nanotechnology for label-free sensing" organized at DTU Nanotech by Anja Boisen, Winnie E. Svendsen, Noemi Rozlosnik, and the three project coordinators Majken L. Møller, Birgitte Brandrup and Tine E. Jørgensen.

The summer school was divided into lectures and group work. The lectures were overview lectures describing state of the art label-free silicon based sensors, polymer sensors and surface functionalization strategies. There were two invited speakers; Professor Anthony turner from Linköping University was here to speak about state of the art and future of biosensors, and Thomas S. Hansen from Radiometer talked about biosensors from an industry perspective.

The participants were divided into groups, each group working on one type of label-free sensor during the whole summer school. Each project task did not have a clear cut solution, this meant that the group had to think creatively and get the information needed in order to complete the task; all members of the group thus had to contribute actively in order to complete the project. Initially this created some confusion and despair but overall increased the learning curve and enthusiasm during the summer school. The projects were about nano-structured cantilever sensor, micro bridge resonators, silicon nanowire sensors and polymer microfluidic devices.

As an example, the aim of the micro bridge resonators project was to investigate possible bio-sensing applications using strings. The micro bridge resonators group fabricated silicon nitride strings from bare Si wafers and the strings were coated with gold layer for bio-molecule functionalisation. The aim of the cantilever project was to compare non-structured cantilevers to nano-structured ones.

The cantilever group structured silicon cantilevers’ surfaces by dry etch with different parameters and then the cantilevers were also coated by gold layer. Both groups tried to functionalise the gold surface with an antibody biotin and to bind streptavidin molecules on biotin. Both groups came to interesting results and conclusions even though they only had such a short time.

The group work focused on clean room fabrication of a label-free sensor the first week and experimental work in the labs the second week. The group work was concluded in a report and a presentation the last day.

Three social activities were included in the program. The first day a pizza party was organized to encourage the participants to get to know each other. On Friday there was a sightseeing bus trip around Copenhagen and a guided tour around Christiania, which was a huge experience for many of the participants. The day ended with a very delicious dinner at Restaurant 56 degrees.

The last day at the summer school, we went on a very fun and beautiful canoe trip at Lyngby sø and Mølleåen. And afterwards, the summer school ended with a barbecue at Frederiksdal Fribad where we enjoyed the sunset over the lake.

The summer school got very good feedback and the participants thought that it was recommendable. Because of the huge success, the summer school