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  1. Abstract

    In this work, we demonstrate the development of a rapid and label-free electrochemical biosensor to detectListeria monocytogenesusing a novel stimulus–response thiomer nanobrush material. Nanobrushes were developed via one-step simultaneous co-deposition of nanoplatinum (Pt) and alginate thiomers (ALG-thiomer). ALG-thiomer/Pt nanobrush platform significantly increased the average electroactive surface area of electrodes by 7 folds and maintained the actuation properties (pH-stimulated osmotic swelling) of the alginate. Dielectric behavior during brush actuation was characterized with positively, neutral, and negatively charged redox probes above and below the isoelectric point of alginate, indicating ALG-thiomer surface charge plays an important role in signal acquisition. The ALG-thiomer platform was biofunctionalized with an aptamer selective for the internalin A protein onListeriafor biosensing applications. Aptamer loading was optimized and various cell capture strategies were investigated (brush extended versus collapsed). Maximum cell capture occurs when the ALG-thiomer/aptamer is in the extended conformation (pH > 3.5), followed by impedance measurement in the collapsed conformation (pH < 3.5). Low concentrations of bacteria (5 CFU mL−1) were sensed from a complex food matrix (chicken broth) and selectivity testing against other Gram-positive bacteria (Staphylococcus aureus) indicate the aptamer affinity is maintained, even at these pH values. The new hybrid soft material is among the most efficient and fastest (17 min) forL.more »monocytogenesbiosensing to date, and does not require sample pretreatment, constituting a promising new material platform for sensing small molecules or cells.

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  2. Bacterial contamination in food-processing facilities is a critical issue that leads to outbreaks compromising the integrity of the food supply and public health. We developed a label-free and rapid electrochemical biosensor for Listeria monocytogenes detection using a new one-step simultaneous sonoelectrodeposition of platinum and chitosan (CHI/Pt) to create a biomimetic nanostructure that actuates under pH changes. The XPS analysis shows the effective co-deposition of chitosan and platinum on the electrode surface. This deposition was optimized to enhance the electroactive surface area by 11 times compared with a bare platinum–iridium electrode (p < 0.05). Electrochemical behavior during chitosan actuation (pH-stimulated osmotic swelling) was characterized with three different redox probes (positive, neutral, and negative charge) above and below the isoelectric point of chitosan. These results showed that using a negatively charged redox probe led to the highest electroactive surface area, corroborating previous studies of stimulus–response polymers on metal electrodes. Following this material characterization, CHI/Pt brushes were functionalized with aptamers selective for L. monocytogenes capture. These aptasensors were functional at concentrations up to 106 CFU/mL with no preconcentration nor extraneous reagent addition. Selectivity was assessed in the presence of other Gram-positive bacteria (Staphylococcus aureus) and with a food product (chicken broth). Actuation ledmore »to improved L. monocytogenes detection with a low limit of detection (33 CFU/10 mL in chicken broth). The aptasensor developed herein offers a simple fabrication procedure with only one-step deposition followed by functionalization and rapid L. monocytogenes detection, with 15 min bacteria capture and 2 min sensing.« less
  3. Foodborne pathogens are a major concern for public health. We demonstrate for the first time a partially automated sensing system for rapid (~17 min), label-free impedimetric detection of Escherichia coli spp. in food samples (vegetable broth) and hydroponic media (aeroponic lettuce system) based on temperature-responsive poly(N-isopropylacrylamide) (PNIPAAm) nanobrushes. This proof of concept (PoC) for the Sense-Analyze-Respond-Actuate (SARA) paradigm uses a biomimetic nanostructure that is analyzed and actuated with a smartphone. The bio-inspired soft material and sensing mechanism is inspired by binary symbiotic systems found in nature, where low concentrations of bacteria are captured from complex matrices by brush actuation driven by concentration gradients at the tissue surface. To mimic this natural actuation system, carbon-metal nanohybrid sensors were fabricated as the transducer layer, and coated with PNIPAAm nanobrushes. The most effective coating and actuation protocol for E. coli detection at various temperatures above/below the critical solution temperature of PNIPAAm was determined using a series of electrochemical experiments. After analyzing nanobrush actuation in stagnant media, we developed a flow through system using a series of pumps that are triggered by electrochemical events at the surface of the biosensor. SARA PoC may be viewed as a cyber-physical system that actuates nanomaterials using smartphone-basedmore »electroanalytical testing of samples. This study demonstrates thermal actuation of polymer nanobrushes to detect (sense) bacteria using a cyber-physical systems (CPS) approach. This PoC may catalyze the development of smart sensors capable of actuation at the nanoscale (stimulus-response polymer) and macroscale (non-microfluidic pumping).« less
  4. Irrigation water is a primary source of fresh produce contamination by bacteria during the preharvest, particularly in hydroponic systems where the control of pests and pathogens is a major challenge. In this work, we demonstrate the development of a Listeria biosensor using platinum interdigitated microelectrodes (Pt-IME). The sensor is incorporated into a particle/sediment trap for the real-time analysis of irrigation water in a hydroponic lettuce system. We demonstrate the application of this system using a smartphone-based potentiostat for rapid on-site analysis of water quality. A detailed characterization of the electrochemical behavior was conducted in the presence/absence of DNA and Listeria spp., which was followed by calibration in various solutions with and without flow. In flow conditions (100 mL samples), the aptasensor had a sensitivity of 3.37 ± 0.21 kΩ log-CFU−1 mL, and the LOD was 48 ± 12 CFU mL−1 with a linear range of 102 to 104 CFU mL−1. In stagnant solution with no flow, the aptasensor performance was significantly improved in buffer, vegetable broth, and hydroponic media. Sensor hysteresis ranged from 2 to 16% after rinsing in a strong basic solution (direct reuse) and was insignificant after removing the aptamer via washing in Piranha solution (reuse after adsorptionmore »with fresh aptamer). This is the first demonstration of an aptasensor used to monitor microbial water quality for hydroponic lettuce in real time using a smartphone-based acquisition system for volumes that conform with the regulatory standards. The aptasensor demonstrated a recovery of 90% and may be reused a limited number of times with minor washing steps.« less
  5. The long-term aim of this work is to develop a biosensing system that rapidly detects bacterial targets of interest, such as Escherichia coli, in drinking and recreational water quality monitoring. For these applications, a standard sample size is 100 mL, which is quite large for magnetic separation microfluidic analysis platforms that typically function with <20 µL/s throughput. Here, we report the use of 1.5-µm-diameter magnetic microdisc to selectively tag target bacteria, and a high-throughput microfluidic device that can potentially isolate the magnetically tagged bacteria from 100 mL water samples in less than 15 min. Simulations and experiments show ~90% capture efficiencies of magnetic particles at flow rates up to 120 µL/s. Also, the platform enables the magnetic microdiscs/bacteria conjugates to be directly imaged, providing a path for quantitative assay.
  6. In recent years, there is an increasing interest in noninvasive treatments for neurological disorders like Alzheimer and Depression. Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) is one of the most effective methods used for this purpose. The performance of TMS highly depends on the coils used for the generation of magnetic field and induced electric field particularly their designs affecting depth and focality tradeoff characteristics. Among a variety of proposed and used TMS coil designs, circular coils are commonly used both in research and medical and clinical applications. In current study, we focus on changing the outer and inner sizes (diameter) and winding turns of ring coils and try to reach deeper brain regions without significant field strength decay. The induced electric field and the decay rate of the generated field with depth were studied with finite element method calculations. The results of the performed simulations indicate that larger diameter coils have a larger equivalent field emission aperture and produce larger footprint of induced electric field initially. However, their emission solid angles are smaller and, as a result, the field divergence or the decay rates of the generated field with depth are smaller as well, which give them a good potential to performmore »better for deep brain stimulation compared with that of smaller coil.« less
  7. In this review, we discuss the role of sensor analytics point solutions (SNAPS), a reduced complexity machine-assisted decision support tool. We summarize the approaches used for mobile phone-based chemical/biological sensors, including general hardware and software requirements for signal transduction and acquisition. We introduce SNAPS, part of a platform approach to converge sensor data and analytics. The platform is designed to consist of a portfolio of modular tools which may lend itself to dynamic composability by enabling context-specific selection of relevant units, resulting in case-based working modules. SNAPS is an element of this platform where data analytics, statistical characterization and algorithms may be delivered to the data either via embedded systems in devices, or sourced, in near real-time, from mist, fog or cloud computing resources. Convergence of the physical systems with the cyber components paves the path for SNAPS to progress to higher levels of artificial reasoning tools (ART) and emerge as data-informed decision support, as a service for general societal needs. Proof of concept examples of SNAPS are demonstrated both for quantitative data and qualitative data, each operated using a mobile device (smartphone or tablet) for data acquisition and analytics. We discuss the challenges and opportunities for SNAPS, centered aroundmore »the value to users/stakeholders and the key performance indicators users may find helpful, for these types of machine-assisted tools.« less