Project Details


An award is made to Rutgers University New Brunswick to develop a battery powered handheld sensitive instrument whose purpose is to detect panels of proteins for field based environmental monitoring. A portable device for protein analysis virtually impacts all fields of biology and also the biomedical sciences. Protein analysis of environmental samples typically requires collecting and storing samples and returning weeks to months later in labs to begin analyzing the data. The proposed instrument will instead allow for point-of-use on the field analysis of biological samples. The result of this research will be an instrument that is handheld and generalizable to the needs of individual biological laboratories. This disruptive tool will be valuable for basic biology, as well as clinical, biotechnological, and agricultural research. This tool will also have greater societal benefits including improving agricultural practices and deeper insights into environmental biology, which is necessary for protecting the environment. This is multidisciplinary work that combines engineering, nanofabrication, chemistry, physics, and biology and provides a great opportunity to educate and train graduate students, undergraduates, and high school students. One of the important educational outcomes of the proposed research includes building teaching modules that will be incorporated into a massive open online course (MOOC) in biosensor and bioinstrumentation development. Collaborations will be developed with the Rutgers Office for Diversity and Academic Success in the Sciences to attract under-represented students to the study of STEM disciplines.The proposed sample-to-answer portable protein analyzer to be developed will utilize 1) on-chip microfluidic sample preparation, 2) decoupled digital protein detection for quantification of low abundance proteins 3) nanoelectronic barcoding of beads for enabling multiplexing capability, and 4) on-chip magnet based fluidic peristaltic pumping for maintaining an ultra-compact footprint. Nanoelectronic barcoding works by fabricating tunable nano-capacitors on the microparticle surface, effectively modulating the frequency dependent dielectric properties of the particles allowing one bead barcode to be distinguished from another, potentially on the scale of 100-fold multiplexing. By using electronic based solutions for all of the key modules of the proposed instrument, the cost and size of the readout instrumentation can be significantly reduced, thus truly enabling on-the-field analysis. The devices will be validated in the field with environmental samples, benchmarking for detection limit, accuracy, and assay time for a panel of photosynthesis proteins from the green alga Picochlorum. The results will be shared with the engineering and experimental biology communities via presentations at professional meetings and submission to peer-reviewed journals. The research value of the instrument will be broadly disseminated through partnerships with the Rutgers BioMAPS Institute for Quantitative Biology and the Rutgers Center for Integrated Proteomic Research. To prepare for commercialization of the technology and broad distribution, there will be close collaboration with the Rutgers Center for Innovative Ventures of Emerging Technologies and the Rutgers Office of Technology Commercialization.
Effective start/end date4/1/163/31/19


  • National Science Foundation (National Science Foundation (NSF))


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