Thermal Contrast Amplification Reader Yielding 8-Fold Analytical Improvement for Disease Detection with Lateral Flow Assays

Anal Chem. 2016 Dec 6;88(23):11774-11782. doi: 10.1021/acs.analchem.6b03406. Epub 2016 Nov 7.


There is an increasing need for highly sensitive and quantitative diagnostics at the point-of-care. The lateral flow immunoassay (LFA) is one of the most widely used point-of-care diagnostic tests; however, LFAs generally suffer from low sensitivity and lack of quantification. To overcome these limitations, thermal contrast amplification (TCA) is a new method that is based on the laser excitation of gold nanoparticles (GNPs), the most commonly used visual signature, to evoke a thermal signature. To facilitate the clinical translation of the TCA technology, we present the development of a TCA reader, a platform technology that significantly improves the limit of detection and provides quantification of disease antigens in LFAs. This TCA reader provides enhanced sensitivity over visual detection by the human eye or by a colorimetric reader (e.g., BD Veritor System Reader). More specifically, the TCA reader demonstrated up to an 8-fold enhanced analytical sensitivity and quantification among LFAs for influenza, malaria, and Clostridium difficile. Systematic characterization of the laser, infrared camera, and other components of the reader and their integration into a working reader instrument are described. The development of the TCA reader enables simple, highly sensitive quantification of LFAs at the point-of-care.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Clostridioides difficile / isolation & purification*
  • Gold / chemistry
  • Humans
  • Immunoassay / methods*
  • Influenza, Human / diagnosis*
  • Malaria / diagnosis*
  • Metal Nanoparticles / chemistry
  • Point-of-Care Testing*
  • Temperature*


  • Gold