The Advanced Biomanufacturing and Biosensing (AdBio) Lab is inspired by the sentiment 'If you can't measure it, you can't manage it.' However, being a sensor-focused laboratory, our research is guided by the related mindset 'If you can't measure it in real-time, you can't control it.'
Thus, our lab is focused on the creation of biosensor platform technologies for human-centered applications in manufacturing and chemical-material processing, with special focus on biomanufacturing (e.g.,of artificial tissues/organs, cell therapies), bioprocessing (e.g., of pharmaceuticals, fermentation, food), and environmental monitoring (e.g., for water quality, agriculture, biowarefare). The ability to utilize sensors for the real-time detection, identification, separation, and quantification of chemical and biological species in such complex biological systems is central to improving our fundamental understanding of how such systems work as well as offering new solutions for quality assurance, process control, and safety, as such species often represent critical process inputs (e.g., reactants), outputs (e.g., products), and quality measures.
Our overall goal is to enable robust, field deployable biosensing systems capable of performing in real world application settings for real-time detection of chemical and biological species, such as inorganic and organic compounds, toxins, biowarefare agents, proteins, nucleic acids, whole cells, and pathogens in dense complex matrices that contain a high concentration of background species, including aqueous solutions (e.g., drinking/source waters, waste water, cell culture media, body fluids), hydrogels (e.g., tissues), and porous materials (e.g., soil). We are also interested in physical property sensing of fluids, gels, and solids, such as high throughput continuous monitoring of material properties (e.g., density, viscosity, and viscoelastic properties).
Our research is guided by major questions including: 1) How can sensors be leveraged for biosensing in gel and solid matrices, such as continuous monitoring of physiological signatures of tissues, organs, and soil systems?; 2) How can sensor surfaces be regenerated using chemical-free approaches?; 3) How can sensor biorecognition approaches and transduction mechanisms be adapted to sensitively detect the binding of large targets, such as whole cells?; How can materials be continuously extruded over non-flat surfaces (i.e., objects with complex organic shape) with high quality?; and What is the relationship between chemotactic signal parameters and biological response?
Focus is on design and engineering of highly sensitive, selective, rapid, and robust biosensors and associated measurement formats for long-term sensing applications based on reference sensing, in situ verification (e.g., secondary binding and target release), in situ surface regeneration, sample preparation-free measurement, and sensor-based data analytics. Interest varies across a wide range of transduction mechanisms, but focus is given to sensors composed of combinations of gravimetric and electrochemical approaches due to the potential for novel readout and sensing capabilities (e.g., dual-readout as well as anti-fouling and surface regeneration, respectively). Thus, we are currently interested in a novel sensing platform based on hybrid electrochemical-cantilever biosensors, referred to as electrochemical piezoelectric-excited millimeter-sized cantilever (ePEMC) sensors, as they enable novel real-time sensing opportunities in dense matrices due to high cantilever Reynolds number.
Our lab specializes in the use of hybrid microextrusion 3D printing and robotic-embedding additive manufacturing processes for design and fabrication of sensors, bioelectronics, biomedical devices, and microphysiological plant and animal systems, with unique capability in structured light scanning, conformal printing, tool path programming, multi-material printing, bio-fabrication, bioelectronics, and 3D printed electronics. We also heavily utilize techniques of electrical impedance spectroscopy, finite element simulation, electrochemical analysis, bioassay (e.g., PCR and ELISA), and cell culture for characterization and testing.
Research problems span from the macro- to nanoscale, ranging from: conformal printing over objects with complex geometric shape, to continuous flow measurement formats, to transduction physics/mechanisms of sensor-target binding events, to bioconjugation and biorecognition chemistry. Thus, we are fundamentally interested in additive manufacturing, sensor fabrication, transport phenomena, bioreactor design, bioprocess engineering, process controls, acoustofluidics, impedance analysis, surface and interfacial chemistry, bioconjugation, and thus, multi-scale interface between materials and biology.
Current projects are driven by needs in: additive manufacturing, organ transplantation, innervation of 3D printed tissues/organs, biomanufacturing of quality tissues and cell therapies, high throughput material classification, water resource management, and agriculture. Project are also highly driven by use of sensor-based and additive manufacturing approaches to better understand plant and animal physiology (e.g., chemotaxis) at both a cellular and systems level.