Graduate Exam Abstract

Nicholas Grant

M.S. Final
June 18, 2018, 2:00 pm - 4:00 pm
LSC 322
Automated Sample Preparation for DNA Extraction Using Digital Microfluidics

Abstract: There have been many technological advances in the medical industry over the years giving doctors and researchers more information than ever before. Technology has allowed more sensitive and accurate sensors and has also driven the size of many sensor devices smaller while increasing sensitivity. However, while many aspects of technology have seen improvements, the sample preparation of biological tests has seen lagging development. The sample preparation stage is defined in this paper as the extracting of required features from a given sample for the purpose of measurement. A simple example of this is the solid phase extraction of DNA from a blood sample to detect blood borne pathogens. While this process is common in laboratories, and has even been automated by large and expensive equipment, it is a difficult process to mimic in lab-on-chip (LoC) devices. Nucleic Acid isolation requires common bench top equipment such as pipettes, vortexers, and centrifuges. Current lab based methods also use relatively large amounts of reagents to perform the extraction adding to the cost of each test. There has been a lot of research improving sensing techniques proposed for Lab on Chip devices, but many sensing methods still require a sample preparation stage to extract desired features. Without a complimentary LoC sample preparation system, the diversity of LoC device remains limited.
This thesis demonstrates the general principle of digital microfluidic device and the use of such device in a small hand- held platform capable of performing many sample preparation tasks automatically, such as the extraction and isolation of DNA. Liquids are transported using a technique called Eletro-wetting on Dielectric (EWOD) and controlled via a programmable microprocessor. The programmable nature of the device allows it to be configured for a variety of tests for different industries. The device also requires a fraction of the liquids lab based methods use, which greatly reduces the cost per test. The results of this thesis show a promising step forward to more capable LoC devices.

Adviser: Dr. Tom Chen
Co-Adviser: N/A
Non-ECE Member: Dr. Brian Geiss, Department of Microbiology, Immunology, and Pathology
Member 3: Dr. Edwin Chong, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering
Addional Members: (none)


Program of Study: