Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



Document Type



Single-molecule detection (SMD) offers an attractive approach for identifying the presence of certain markers that can be used for in vitro molecular diagnostics in a near real-time format. The ability to eliminate sample processing steps afforded by the ultra-high sensitivity associated with SMD yields an increased sampling pipeline. When SMD and microfluidics are used in conjunction with nucleic acid-based assays such as the ligase detection reaction coupled with single-pair fluorescent resonance energy transfer (LDR-spFRET), complete molecular profiling and screening of certain cancers, pathogenic bacteria, and other biomarkers becomes possible at remarkable speeds and sensitivities with high specificity. The merging of these technologies and techniques into two different novel instrument formats has been investigated. (1) The use of a charge-coupled device (CCD) in time-delayed integration (TDI) mode as a means for increasing the throughput of any single molecule measurement by simultaneously tracking and detecting single-molecules in multiple microfluidic channels was demonstrated. The CCD/TDI approach allowed increasing the sample throughput by a factor of 8 compared to a single-assay SMD experiment. A sampling throughput of 276 molecules s-1 per channel and 2208 molecules s-1 for an eight channel microfluidic system was achieved. A cyclic olefin copolymer (COC) waveguide was designed and fabricated in a pre-cast poly(dimethylsiloxane) stencil to increase the SNR by controlling the excitation geometry. The waveguide showed an attenuation of 0.67 dB/cm and the launch angle was optimized to increase the depth of penetration of the evanescent wave. (2) A compact SMD (cSMD) instrument was designed and built for the reporting of molecular signatures associated with bacteria. The optical waveguides were poised within the fluidic chip at orientation of 90° with respect to each other for the interrogation of single-molecule events. Molecular beacons (MB) were designed to probe bacteria for the classification of Gram +. MBs were mixed with bacterial cells and pumped though the cSMD which allowed S. aureus to be classified with 2,000 cells in 1 min. Finally, the integration of the LDR-spFRET assay on the cSMD was explored with the future direction of designing a molecular screening approach for stroke diagnostics.



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Committee Chair

Soper, Steven A.

Included in

Chemistry Commons