The ring pattern resulting from the unique microfluidics in an evaporating coffee drop is a well-studied mass transport phenomenon generating interest in the research community mostly from a mechanistic perspective. In this report, we describe how biomarker-induced particle-particle assemblies, magnetic separation, and evaporation-driven ring formation can be combined for simple pathogen detection. In this assay design, the presence of biomarkers causes self-assembly of a magnetic nanoparticle and a fluorescently labeled micrometer-sized particle. A small spherical magnet under the center of the drop prevents these assemblies from migrating to the drop's edge while a nonreactive control particle flows to the edge forming a ring pattern. Thus the presence or absence of biomarker results in distinctly different distributions of particles in the dried drop. Proof-of-principle studies using poly-L-histidine, a peptide mimic of the malaria biomarker pfHRPII, show that the predicted particle distributions occur with a limit of detection of approximately 200-300 nM.
© 2011 American Chemical Society