Winnie E. Svendsen, professor DTU Bioengineering har stor erfaring med at udvikle nanostrukturer i renrummet på DTU Nanolab. Foto: Peter Aagaard Brixen.

Fine nanowires with disease-detecting potential

Tuesday 03 Dec 19


Winnie Edith Svendsen
DTU Bioengineering
+45 31 25 93 69


Jaime Castillo
Senior Scientist
DTU Bioengineering

Nano Research at DTU Bioengineering

Nano Bio Integrated Systems
Group Leader: Winnie Svendsen
Develops highly sensitive technologies for medical diagnosis, treatment monitoring, and environmental monitoring.

AligND Systems

Single-molecule detection with lightguiding nanowires: Determination of protein concentration and diffusivity in supported lipid bilayers.
A new startup with DTU involvment will use nanowires to capture particles that can reveal diseases such as leukaemia.

AligND Systems, a new startup involving scientists from DTU Bioengineering, has developed a prototype for a biological sensor with the potential to detect particles from cells in diseases such as leukemia. The biosensor is made of three dimensional III-V nanowires coated with biosensing molecules, so fine that they can capture particles from disease cells.

“There’s huge potential in using nanostructures as biosensors. It’s an entirely new technology that allows us to capture particles from cells and thus detect diseases. It opens up new perspectives for doctors to diagnose illnesses through blood or urine samples alone, thus sparing patients of stressful tissue biopsies,” says Winnie E. Svendsen, Professor at DTU Bioengineering and member of the technical advisory board in AligND Systems.

Particles from cells

The technology was originally designed for use in solar cells, and Jaime Castillo-León together with AligND has obtained a patent for the method of transferring nanostructures to the surface of other materials. In AligND Systems, the technology is used to produce low cost semiconducting nanowires nanowires that can capture particles in e.g. a blood sample, which can then be detected and analyzed using light.

"Nanostructures as biosensors opens up new perspectives for doctors to diagnose illnesses through blood or urine samples alone, thus sparing patients of stressful tissue biopsies"
Winnie E. Svendsen, Professor at DTU Bioengineering

Winnie E. Svendsen is a physicist and Group Leader of Nano Bio Integrated Systems - one of the three research groups from DTU Nanotech that were transferred to DTU Bioengineering in 2019. The expectations of the meeting between nanotechnology and the in-depth knowledge of biologists about biological systems were very high, and AligND Systems’s use of nanowires is the first concrete example of collaboration between the two fields of research.


Winnie E. Svendsen has extensive experience developing nanostructures in the cleanroom at DTU Nanolab. Normally, the researchers use a ‘top-down’ method, where structures are etched into the surface of wafers. AligND Systems uses a different, patented method, where nanowires are growth in a gas-phase and then the nanostructures can be aligned and transferred to any material needed.

“I expect that we can work with AligND Systems on a number of student projects in which we can explore other possible uses of the nanostructured surfaces. Not least when it comes to a number of new biomarkers such as exosomes, which are particles from diseased cells that can be captured in nanostructures and analysed,” says Winnie E. Svendsen.

CEO of AligND Systems Erik Smith expects the company to be on the market with the new nanowire structure optimized for cancer biomarker chemistry within a year. The product will be marketed throughout the western market initially and then expanded globally. According to Erik Smith, AligND Systems has gained great interest in the form of several 'letters of intent'.