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Some Issues

Understanding exposure to pathogens, and then diagnosing and treating of diseases represents one of society’s grand challenges.  New tools are required to better understand and control disease, and do so in an affordable manner.

How can an understanding of electrochemical materials and interfaces help?

Our research tackles health-related problems in several ways:

    (i) We are developing new aqueous solution-phase methods for synthesizing nanoparticle taggants that possess functional protein shell capable of targeting DNA or cell surface proteins that arise in pathological organisms. 

    (ii) Protein-induced ordering in nanoparticle arrays can serve as substrates for optical sensors that rely on surface enhanced Raman spectroscopy. 

    (iii) We are also working on microfluidic devices that can trap motile cells while still in suspension.  We have used this for trapping and evaluating phytoplankton organisms associated with red tide formation.

Movie of trapping and manipulating cells

Examples of how we are doing it (Publications)

Haixia Dai and Dan Allred have explored several methods for creating protein-enhanced nanostructures.  Dai’s works shows how to synthesize functional semiconductor nanoparticles with a protein coating that allows DNA binding.  The work has been extended by Atanu Sengupta to show that protein coated nanoparticles can be an excellent platform for surface enhanced Raman spectroscopy. Dan Allred has synthesized semiconducting nanoparticle arrays using electrodeposition through surface-layer proteins.

Our work on trapping and manipulating cells is exemplified bey the work of Barry Lutz and Jian Chen.  They have developed new steady streaming flow microdevices that generate microeddies capable of trpping and dosing reagents on cells.  Trapping and dosing suspension cells is an essential part of single cell diagnoostics.


Our work in this area is largely funded by the Army Research Office and the National Science Foundation.

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Daniel T. Schwartz, Director
The Electrochemical Materials and Interfaces LAB
Department of Chemical Engineering
 BOX 351750 University of Washington Seattle, WA 98195
E-mail address:
Last updated : 04/05/11