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UWyo Department of Chemistry

Micro- & Nanofluidic

Instrumentation Laboratory

 

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Micro- and Nanoscale Separations

 
Miniaturization of separation devices is an area of immense interest to the scientific community, as the performance of these systems tends to improve with a reduction in their length scale. In addition, the stronger interaction of the analyte molecules with the channel surface and the electrical double layer around it in nanoscale separation columns leads to new transport phenomena that are not observed in their micrometer scale counterparts. In this project, we are exploring some of these nanoscale transport phenomena to realize enhanced separation of biochemical species. Such improvements in separation speed and efficiency is likely to not only reduce the time and cost involved in biochemical experimentation, but also enhance our ability to identify closely related and/or short-lived species.

 

Microfluidic Fuel Cells

 
The explosive growth of portable and wireless consumer electronics over the past few years has spurred the development of new power source technologies having increased power and energy densities. Although lithium-ion and nickel-metal-hydride based rechargable batteries are well serving this requirement at the present, battery technology is unlikely to kep pace with the growing demands of electronic devices with high broadband applications. Further exacerbating the demands on power sources for next generation of personal electronics is the trend towards smaller, lighter and more compact devices. Miniaturized fuel cells have received considerable attention as a primary solution to these demands on portable power sources. In this project, we are developing novel ultra-thin proton exchange membranes (PEM) that can be readily integrated to microfluidic fuel cells. It is anticipated that the proposed architecture for PEMs can allow further miniaturization of microfluidic fuel cells as well as help bring down the cost of these units.

 

Microfluidic Immunoassays

 
A full understanding of many biological processes often requires the detection and quantitation of biomolecules present at extremely small concentrations. In many cases, even methods that have high sensitivity (e.g., fluorescence) may not be sufficiently sensitive. In this project, we are developing novel microfluidic devices that can enhance the sensitivity of common immunoassays. These tools are then being applied to understand virus/cell receptor interactions and subsequent virus replication steps that involve rapidly occuring reactions with relatively small concentrations of molecules. In addition, the proposed microfluidic devices are being used to enhance the sensitivity of cytokine assays relevant to diabetic research. This project is being carried out in collaboration with Prof. Bob Corcoran (Department of Chemistry, University of Wyoming), Prof. Sreejayan Nair (School of Pharmacy, University of Wyoming) and Dr. James Mecham (USDA).

 

Sample Preparation for Biodetection

 
The need for detection of biological warfare agents (BWA) in field situations have led to the development of field-portable instrumentaion like polymerase chain reaction and/or mass spectrometry to perform the analyses of oligonucleotides, lipids and/or proteins. However, very little attention has been placed on sample pretreatment, that is, how do you convert a biological agent and its biological components to biomarker fractions that can be analyzed and detected by field-portable instrumentation. In this project, we are developing novel microfluidic devices that can allow faster and automated sample preparation of BWA. This project is being carried out in collaboration with Prof. Franco Basile from the department of chemistry at the University of Wyoming.