Biological and Chemical Sensors
The ability to perform label-free experiments is an enabling technology for many biological systems studies. However, currently the majority of label-free detection technologies require very high concentrations of molecules, ie they are not able to perform these potentially revolutionary experiments. One active area of research is developing the techniques and methods which will allow many of the pivotal systems biology questions to be addressed. This research is highly collaborative.
Studying the dynamic and often non-linear properties of polymeric materials requires the development of realtime detection and monitoring techniques. One of the research topics is the development of such an instrument and its implementation in studying non-linear surface phenomena, such as catalysis and phase transformation. This work is performed in collaboration with Prof. Barry Thompson in the Chemistry Dept at USC.
Although microfluidics is a fairly developed field, its integration with optics (a recently coined term of optofluidics), is extremely young. It is the merging of these two fields that can finally fully realize the lab-on-chip vision, with devices like an integrated sensing platform with PCR. However, there is still a significant amount of engineering to be finished in order to make the microfludic components compatible with the optics and optical devices, as well the development of a sufficiently sensitive transduction mechanism.
Optical microcavities have been crucial in studying many non-linear effects because of the resonant re-circulation of of light within the microcavity. They also can prove to be an integral component in many telecommunications devices because of their very narrow linewidths. One active area of study is improving their ability to perform these experiments by improving this platform as well as investigating the development of novel platforms with similar performance characteristics.