In this timely review, we summarize recent work on ultra-fast and sensitive bioassays based on microwave heating, and provide our current interpretation of the role of the combined use of microwave energy and plasmonic nanostructures for applications in rapid clinical and bioagent diagnostics. The incorporation of microwave heating into plasmonic nanostructure-based bioassays brings new advancements to diagnostic tests. A temperature gradient, created by the selective heating of water in the presence of plasmonic nanostructures, results in an increased mass transfer of target biomolecules towards the biorecognition partners placed on the plasmonic nanostructures, enabling diagnostic tests to be completed in less than a minute, and in some cases only a few seconds, by further microwave heating. The diagnostic tests can also be run in complex biological samples, such as human serum and whole blood.
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