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Chemical Engineering

Synthetic Materials and Biofunctional Interfaces for Biosensing and Cell Screening Applications

Functional materials can be patterned onto solid substrates to obtain surfaces with precisely controlled physical, chemical, and biological features at micrometer and nanometer length scales.  Using this approach, we are developing synthetic, bio-functional interfaces for use in new biological assays.  There are currently two projects in the Hansen lab following this theme:

(A)Bio-functional polymer interfaces for microbe capture and isolation

We are developing engineered surfaces that contain multi-functional polymers combining micro- and nano-scale physical architectures with tailored chemical and biological functionality.   We use micro- and nano-fabrication methods to structure these polymers on surfaces in a well-controlled, three-dimensional manner, and then tune functionality by conjugating the polymers with bioreceptors.  Using this approach, we are optimizing these interfaces for highly sensitive, highly selective microbial capture.  We are currently focused on developing these interfaces for rapid isolation and detection of microbial contaminants from food, water and environmental samples.

(B)Bio-mimetic interfaces for understanding the effects of physicochemical surface properties on microbe community structure  

It is well known that attachment of microbes to a surface is a fundamental step in the formation of a biofilm or in the assembly of a microbial community to a host.   However, in many real systems, the influence of underlying surface properties on the resulting community structure is unknown.  Using methods in micro- and nano-fabrication, we are developing high-throughput platforms that systematically mimic certain physical and chemical aspects of natural host surfaces, and use these platforms to understand how physicochemical surface properties shape microbial community structure.


Ryan R. Hansen
Assistant Professor