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Self-powered sensing applications 

A relatively new aspect to my research is the development of integrated energy systems as bio-batteries capable of powering embedded biosensors using organic molecules, such as glucose, present in biofluids (e.g. human blood). The goal of the project is to develop microfluidic hydrogel-based biofuel cells for self-powered sensing applications. The research project sets out to create a point-of-care disposable diagnostic microsystem to detect the presence of biomarkers (e.g. proteins, toxins, hormones and viruses) in small blood samples without the need for external electronic components or read out. The entire system architecture would consist of: (a) the biofuel cell containing the enzyme-coupled hydrogels in combination with nanowire-coated electrodes and charge separators, (b) a sensing region based on a sandwich immunoassay, and (c) optical and/ or electric readout. Sensing will be accomplished using a simple antibody-antigen affinity assay followed by the addition of metallic nanoparticles functionalized with secondary antibodies to electrically shorten the interrupted leads. Large scale production of disposable microfluidic cartridges are envisioned to rapidly detect the onset and spread of infectious disease (e.g. malaria, Ebola, Zika and etc.), which is an increasing problem in the developing world.