The research objective of this award is to create a multiplexed microfluidic biosensor that allows simultaneous detection of multiple macromolecular biomarkers with high throughput and high sensitivity. The approach taken will be an integration of an immunoaggregation assay using ultra-stable nanogels and a multiplexed multichannel resistive pulse sensing array. In the immunoaggregation assay, biomarkers corresponding to specific polyclonal antibodies will cause aggregation of the nanogels functionalized by the antibodies; the nanogel-biomarker aggregates will be detected by a resistive pulse sensing array, dramatically amplifying the sensing signals because of their large size. The resistive pulse sensing array will allow parallel detection of nanogel-biomarker aggregates as they pass through the sensing channels. Frequency division multiplexing will be applied to the signals from the parallel sensing channels to enable high throughput detection using only a single set of detection electronics.
If successful, the benefits of this research will contribute to improved biosensing technology for rapid and onsite analysis of a wide variety of biological targets such as biomarkers, toxins, virus and pathogens in liquid environment, and thus will enable improved disease diagnosis/prognosis, enhanced homeland security and improved water safety. This project will provide multidisciplinary training opportunity for the graduate and undergraduate students involved in the research. The project also aims to develop and deploy biosensor and micro/nano technology-related educational materials and contribute to motivating K-12 students and undergraduate students from underrepresented groups to pursue science and engineering careers. Through University of Akron's "Increasing Diversity in Engineering Academics," "Women in Engineering" and "High School Bridge" programs, undergraduate students and high school students will be recruited to conduct research in this project, with an emphasis on underrepresented minorities and women.