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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
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  4. Despite having widespread application in the biomedical sciences, flow cytometers have several limitations that prevent their application to point-of-care (POC) diagnostics in resource-limited environments. 3D printing provides a cost-effective approach to improve the accessibility of POC devices in resource-limited environments. Towards this goal, we introduce a 3D-printed imaging platform (3DPIP) capable of accurately counting particles and perform fluorescence microscopy. In our 3DPIP, captured microscopic images of particle flow are processed on a custom developed particle counter code to provide a particle count. This prototype uses a machine vision-based algorithm to identify particles from captured flow images and is flexible enough to allow for labeled and label-free particle counting. Additionally, the particle counter code returns particle coordinates with respect to time which can further be used to perform particle image velocimetry. These results can help estimate forces acting on particles, and identify and sort different types of cells/particles. We evaluated the performance of this prototype by counting 10 μm polystyrene particles diluted in deionized water at different concentrations and comparing the results with a commercial Beckman-Coulter Z2 particle counter. The 3DPIP can count particle concentrations down to ∼100 particles per mL with a standard deviation of ±20 particles, which is comparablemore »to the results obtained on a commercial particle counter. Our platform produces accurate results at flow rates up to 9 mL h −1 for concentrations below 1000 particle per mL, while 5 mL h −1 produces accurate results above this concentration limit. Aside from performing flow-through experiments, our instrument is capable of performing static experiments that are comparable to a plate reader. In this configuration, our instrument is able to count between 10 and 250 cells per image, depending on the prepared concentration of bacteria samples ( Citrobacter freundii ; ATCC 8090). Overall, this platform represents a first step towards the development of an affordable fully 3D printable imaging flow cytometry instrument for use in resource-limited clinical environments.« less
  5. Open microfluidics have emerged as a low-cost, pumpless alternative strategy to conventional microfluidics for delivery of fluid for a wide variety of applications including rapid biochemical analysis and medical diagnosis. However, creating open microfluidics by tuning the wettability of surfaces typically requires sophisticated cleanroom processes that are unamenable to scalable manufacturing. Herein, we present a simple approach to develop open microfluidic platforms by manipulating the surface wettability of spin-coated graphene ink films on flexible polyethylene terephthalate via laser-controlled patterning. Wedge-shaped hydrophilic tracks surrounded by superhydrophobic walls are created within the graphene films by scribing micron-sized grooves into the graphene with a CO 2 laser. This scribing process is used to make superhydrophobic walls (water contact angle ∼160°) that delineate hydrophilic tracks (created through an oxygen plasma pretreatment) on the graphene for fluid transport. These all-graphene open microfluidic tracks are capable of transporting liquid droplets with a velocity of 20 mm s −1 on a level surface and uphill at elevation angles of 7° as well as transporting fluid in bifurcating cross and tree branches. The all-graphene open microfluidic manufacturing technique is rapid and amenable to scalable manufacturing, and consequently offers an alternative pumpless strategy to conventional microfluidics and creates possibilitiesmore »for diverse applications in fluid transport.« less
  6. 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
  7. The burgeoning field of nanotechnology aims to create and deploy nanoscale structures, devices, and systems with novel, size-dependent properties and functions. The nanotechnology revolution has sparked radically new technologies and strategies across all scientific disciplines, with nanotechnology now applied to virtually every area of research and development in the US and globally. NanoFlorida was founded to create a forum for scientific exchange, promote networking among nanoscientists, encourage collaborative research efforts across institutions, forge strong industry-academia partnerships in nanoscience, and showcase the contributions of students and trainees in nanotechnology fields. The 2019 NanoFlorida International Conference expanded this vision to emphasize national and international participation, with a focus on advances made in translating nanotechnology. This review highlights notable research in the areas of engineering especially in optics, photonics and plasmonics and electronics; biomedical devices, nano-biotechnology, nanotherapeutics including both experimental nanotherapies and nanovaccines; nano-diagnostics and -theranostics; nano-enabled drug discovery platforms; tissue engineering, bioprinting, and environmental nanotechnology, as well as challenges and directions for future research.
  8. 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.
  9. In this manuscript, we discuss relevant socioeconomic factors for developing and implementing sensor analytic point solutions (SNAPS) as point-of-care tools to serve impoverished communities. The distinct economic, environmental, cultural, and ethical paradigms that affect economically disadvantaged users add complexity to the process of technology development and deployment beyond the science and engineering issues. We begin by contextualizing the environmental burden of disease in select low-income regions around the world, including environmental hazards at work, home, and the broader community environment, where SNAPS may be helpful in the prevention and mitigation of human exposure to harmful biological vectors and chemical agents. We offer examples of SNAPS designed for economically disadvantaged users, specifically for supporting decision-making in cases of tuberculosis (TB) infection and mercury exposure. We follow-up by discussing the economic challenges that are involved in the phased implementation of diagnostic tools in low-income markets and describe a micropayment-based systems-as-a-service approach (pay-a-penny-per-use—PAPPU), which may be catalytic for the adoption of low-end, low-margin, low-research, and the development SNAPS. Finally, we provide some insights into the social and ethical considerations for the assimilation of SNAPS to improve health outcomes in marginalized communities.
  10. 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