The Electronic Tongue, which combines an array of non-selective electrodes with pattern recognition algorithms, is known to be limited by inadequate sensitivity and selectivity of the individual electrodes. This has emerged as a major research thrust. To address this shortcoming, the first Bioelectronic Tongue was recently reported for small molecule detection using an array of ion-selective electrodes, one or more of which has an enzyme coating. The Principal Investigators propose to extend the concept of the Bioelectronic Tongue to antibody-coated electrodes for detection of biomolecules (for example, proteins) and cells. The proposed new type of Bioelectronic Tongue will be demonstrated for peanut protein Ara h 1 from a protein mixture using an array of antibody-coated electrodes interrogated by impedance methods. Measurements will be processed with pattern recognition algorithms to separate the electronic fingerprint of the protein analyte from that of interfering proteins that adsorb non-specifically. Peanut protein Ara h 1 is an allergenic food protein that is stable during most food processing operations, and accidental ingestion of allergenic peanut proteins causes more than 100 deaths in the USA alone each year. The Principal Investigators also propose to demonstrate simultaneous detection of three allergenic proteins: peanut protein Ara h 1, peanut protein Ara h 2, and shrimp tropomyosin, from a protein mixture. Impedance measurements at antibody-coated electrodes are quite powerful, since different physicochemical phenomena can be probed at different frequencies. Pattern recognition algorithms are will be employed to identify the sensor electrodes most sensitive to binding of the protein analyte and most sensitive to non-specific adsorption, and to identify the protein species that adsorb non-specifically. Non-specific adsorption of protein molecules to a surface-immobilized antibody is a critical shortcoming of many solid state biosensors, often afflicting electrochemical, optical, and acoustic biosensors, so the broader technical impact of this research is significant. The Principal Investigators expect that the proposed impedance-based Bioelectronic Tongue is particularly important for problems that are inherently multi-dimensional, with many analytes involved, and for problems where antibody cross-reactivity is expected.
Broader Impact Graduate students will be trained within existing graduate programs (Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, Electrical and Computer Engineering) at Clarkson University. Numerous education and outreach activities are planned to increase the broader impact of this project. The Principal Investigators plan to apply for supplemental research grants from the National Science Foundation for both Research Experiences for Undergraduates and Research Experience for Teachers. The Principal Investigator also plans to make presentations on Biosensors and Bioelectronics to physics and chemistry classes at Potsdam High School. These activities will be coordinated through Clarkson University K-12 Project-Based Learning Partnership Program, and through the Undergraduate Research Committee at Clarkson University Coulter School of Engineering. The Principal Investigators also plan to recruit undergraduate students from underrepresented groups for summer research in their laboratories through Clarkson University Collegiate Science and Technology Entry Program and McNair Scholars Research Program. In addition, the Principal Investigators will create a design project for BR 450, Biomedical Engineering, Science, and Technology Capstone Design.