Life Sciences: Surface Enhanced Raman Spectroscopy, and more

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For biosensing applications in pharmaceutical research, we have developed label-free biosensors based upon external cavity lasers that are capable of detecting small molecule drugs binding to large proteins by detecting picometer-scale changes in the lasing wavelength. The talk will describe a new microscope imaging modality called “Photonic Crystal Enhanced Microscopy (PCEM)” that is capable of imaging and quantifying the strength of cell attachment to a PC biosensor surface with sub-cell spatial resolution, that is being used to study fundamental processes including chemotaxis, proliferation, and stem cell differentiation. The ability of nanostructured surfaces such as photonic crystals or arrays of metal nanodomes to generate spatially confined, high intensity electromagnetic hot spots is being used to enhance the output of surface-enhanced Raman scattering (SERS) for drug molecules, and surface-based fluorescence assays for cancer biomarker proteins. Such nanostructures can be inexpensively manufactured from plastic, glass, or silicon to enable single-use applications, such as incorporating sensors into intravenous drug delivery tubing, or rapid multiplexed disease biomarker testing using only a droplet of serum. Finally, we have recently demonstrated the application of narrowband resonant optical filters operating in the infrared spectrum as a new histological imaging modality, called Discrete Frequency IR (DFIR) absorption spectroscopy, for rapid chemical imaging for applications in pathology and forensics.

Brian T. Cunningham is a Professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering and the Department of Bioengineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where he also serves as the Interim Director of the Micro and Nanotechnology Laboratory, and as Director of the NSF Center for Agricultural, Biomedical, and Pharmaceutical Nanotechnology

An interview with Brian T. Cunningham, professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering and the Department of Bioengineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where he also serves as the Interim Director of the Micro and Nanotechnology Laboratory, and as Director of the NSF Center for Agricultural, Biomedical, and Pharmaceutical Nanotechnology.

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