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Microfluidics for Bionanoparticle Separation and Analysis

Funded by the National Institute of Health, Pennsylvania Department of Health and National Science Foundation

This research project intends to create various platforms capable of quantifying bionanoparticles, such as virions, in biological fluid. We combine novel nanomaterials with optical, mechanical and electrical sensors to purify, enrich and count target particles in an automated and self-calibrated fashion. Such systems are useful in clinical diagnosis of viral infection, detection of pathogens in the environment and fundamental studies of bionoanoparticle trafficking.


Chao Zhao, Xuanhong Cheng, “Microfluidic Separation of Viruses from Blood Cells Based on Intrinsic Transport Processes,” Biomicrofluidics,5(3): 032004.

Weldon, A. L.; Kumnorkaew, P.; Wang, B.; Cheng, X.; Gilchrist, J. F., Fabrication of Macroporous Polymeric Membranes through Binary Convective Deposition. ACS Applied Materials and Interfaces 2012, 4, (9), 4532-4540.

Zhao, C.; Oztekin, A.; Cheng, X. H., Gravity-induced swirl of nanoparticles in microfluidics. Journal of Nanoparticle Research 2013, 15, (5), 1611-1615.

Hu, Y.; Cheng, X.; Ou-yang, D., Fluorescence Correlation Spectroscopy Analysis of Nanoparticles in an Optical Trap. Biomedical Optics Express 2013, 4, (9), 1646-1653.

Surawathanawises, K.; Cheng, X., Nanoindentation controls the pore geometry in anodic aluminum oxide. Electrochimica Acta 2014, 117, 498-503.

Broadband Electrical Sensing of Cells

Funded by DTRA and ARO (PI: Hwang)

This research project designs broadband electrical sensors integrated with microfluidic channels for the label-free detection of cells, including microorganisms. Broadband electrical sensing allows interrogation of different cell compartments, from membrane to cytosol and intracellular vesicles, thus provides comprehensive information about cell viability and identity.


Ning, Y.; Multari, C.; Luo, X.; Palego, C.; Cheng, X.; Hwang, J. C. M.; Denzi, A.; Merla, C.; Appolonio, F.; Liberti, M., Broadband Electrical Detection of Individual Biological Cells. IEEE Transactions on Microwave Theory and Techniques 2014, 62, (9), 1905-1922.

Denzi, A.; Merla, C.; Palego, C.; Paffi, A.; Ning, Y.; Multari, C. R.; Cheng, X.; Apollonio, F.; Hwang, J. C. M.; Liberti, M., Assessment of Cytoplasm Conductivity by Nanosecond Pulsed Electric Fields. IEEE Transactions on Biomedical Engineering 2014, 62, (6), 1595-1603.

Real-time, in situ Sensing of Stem Cell Function

Funded by the National Science Foundation (PI: Bartoli)

The goal of this research project is to create biosensors for in situ and real time detection of stem cell function. Such biosensors are important for understanding the fate of stem differentiation and screening cancer therapeutics. The figure to the left shows an Mach-Zehnder Interferometer based on nanoslits for label-free biomolecule sensing. Ongoing efforts include combining the sensor with cell culture microfluidics to directly interrogate cells and provide feedback control.


Gao, Y.; Gan, Q.; Xin, Z.; Cheng, X.; Bartoli, F. J., Plasmonic Mach–Zehnder Interferometer for Ultrasensitive On-Chip Biosensing. ACS Nano 2011, 5, (12), 9836–9844.

Wu, S.-H.; Lee , K.-L.; Chiou, A.; Cheng, X.; Wei, P.-k., Optofluidic Platform for Real-Time Monitoring of Live Cell Secretory Activities Using Fano Resonance in Gold Nanoslits. Small 2013, 9, (20), 3532-3540.

Wang, B.; Jedlicka, S.; Cheng, X., Maintenance and Neuronal Cell Differentiation of Neural Stem Cells C17.2 Correlated to Medium Availability Sets Design Criteria in Microfluidic Systems PLOS One 2014, 10.1371/journal.pone.0109815.