Summary of Awards to Date

Development of biosensors for food safety applications based on microfluidics and nanomaterials.

Read Full Publication...


Oct. 1, 2009 - Sep. 30, 2014

Award Number


Funding Agency

Center for Produce Safety


Chang Lu, Ph.D.
Purdue University


In the proposed research, we will develop sensor arrays based on nanoporous silicon for bacteria detection. We will systematically study how the nanoscale dimensions affect the biosensor's performance. We will design and implement a microchip platform needed by the nanoscale sensor array. To work toward real field applications in food safety industry, we will develop a prototype integrated chip system for biosensing based on bacterial cells separated from ground beef samples. Nanoporous silicon sensor array and lab-on-a-chip approach are the two key strategies in the proposed work to achieve high sensitivity and specificity together with rapid speed for bacteria detection. An integrated portable chip system proposed in this work will permit the usage in food factory labs for point-of-use analysis. Such local testing capacity will shorten the turnaround time for results and improve the ability for the food industry to handle emergencies and outbreaks.

OBJECTIVES: Our long-term goal is to develop nanoporous silicon based sensor array on a microfluidic platform for simultaneous detection of multiple pathogens. Nanoporous silicon offers a novel nanoscale matrix for label-free molecular recognition through antigen-antibody binding. We will detect bacteria through sensing specific antigen-antibody interactions. An antibody will be immobilized on the inner surface of the nanopores. The penetration of the antigen into the pores, driven by specific binding to the antibody, will be observed as change in the interferometric reflectance spectrum. Immobilization of different antibodies at designated spots of nanoporous silicon will create a sensor array for multi-pathogen detection. Microfluidic platform that is responsible for processing and delivering bacterial cells will also be developed to interface the nanoscale biosensors with tiny amount of biological samples. We will also develop off-chip protocols that enable us to work with real samples of food safety relevance. We aim to fully assess the potential of nanoporous silicon based sensor arrays for bacteria detection. In the proposed research we will lay the ground work for applying this type of nanoscale biosensors to detect real biological samples. We will systematically study how the nanoscale structure affects the performance of the biosensor given a specific antigen-antibody pair.