Research Experience

I am working in Dr. Haim Bau's lab under the supervision of Dr. Michael Mauk.  This lab has been working on the "Lab on Chip" project for the past 7 years.  This lab is engaged in the development of diagnostic devices for disease detection at the point of care.

"In collaboration with colleagues at the NYU School of Dental Medicine, Leiden University, and Lehigh University, and with support from the NIH-NIDCR, we are developing an integrated system for the detection of pathogens such as HIV in oral fluids at the point of sample collection.  The system consists of a disposable sample collector, a disposable cassette, and an analyzer.  The system facilitates multiple analysis paths for the processing and identification of antibodies, antigens, DNA, and RNA.  The cassette contains flow conduits and reaction chambers for cell lysis, DNA isolation, PCR, and detection.  The detection is facilitated through the use of membranes modified with appropriate surface chemistries and Up-covering phosphors that absorb infrared energy and subsequently emit it as visible light."  [1]

The research that I am doing is trying to find the ideal PCM (phase change material) that will allow the process to be held at a temperature of 65°C for a period of 30 minutes.  Currently, we are experimenting with sodium acetate trihydrate ( NaCH3COOH * 3H2O) which is a fairly inexpensive, non-toxic substance.  Sodium acetate has the ability to supercool below its freezing/melting point (which is 58°C ).  When crystallization is induced, heat is released as it is an exothermic process.  We are looking to see if there is enough heat given off to heat the chip at 65°C. 

One problem that we are encountering is that a supersaturated soultion becomes very unstable as it begins to cool.  Any disturbance, i.e. dust particles, electric shock, seed crystal, will make the solution crystallize.  

1. Bau, H. Lab on Chip.  Mechanical Engineering and Applied Mechanics.  University of Pennsylvania.