Protein and DNA microarrays hold the promise to revolutionize the field of molecular diagnostics. Traditional microarray applications employ labeled detection strategies based on the use of fluorescent and chemiluminescent secondary antibodies. However, the development of high throughput, sensitive, label-free detection techniques is attracting attention as they do not require labeled reactants and provide quantitative information on binding kinetics. In this article, we will provide an overview of the recent author's work in label and label-free sensing platforms employing silicon/silicon oxide (Si/SiO2) substrates for interferometric and/or fluorescence detection of microarrays. The review will focus on applications of Si/SiO2 with controlled oxide layers to (i) enhance the fluorescence intensity by optical interferences, (ii) quantify with sub-nanometer accuracy the axial locations of fluorophore-labeled probes tethered to the surface, and (iii) detect protein–protein interactions label free. Different methods of biofunctionalization of the sensing surface will be discussed. In particular, organosilanization reactions for monodimensional coatings and polymeric coatings will be extensively reviewed. Finally, the importance of calibration of protein microarrays through the dual use of labeled and label-free detection schemes on the same chip will be illustrated.
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