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The BioPOETS (Biomolecular Polymer Opto-Electronic Technology and Science) group is focusing on quantum nanoplasmonics, microfluidic BASICs (Biological Application Specific Integrated Circuits), soft-state biological devices, and BioPOEMS (Biomolecular-Polymer-Opto-Electro-Mechanical-Systems) for the digitalization of quantitative systems biology and molecular medicine.
Recently, a team of talented researchers that includes biophysicists, chemists, engineers from the BioPOETS group created novel nanoscale biophotonic probes called "nanocrescents" for the molecular imaging of single cellular dynamics, and "nanorainbow" arrays for high-speed label-free functional genomics or proteomics. Tunable nanocrescent Surface Enhanced Raman Scattering (SERS) probes are being developed as nanoscopic tools to observe the dynamics of the living cell. The standalone Au-based nanocrescent SERS probes can be selectively targeted to specific mRNA, proteins, and cellular components for the nanoscopic in-vivo imaging of the dynamic changes of multiparameters, functional single cell proteomics, and cellomics.
The BioPOETS' philosophy of developing soft-state microfluidic BASIC modules is to create effective tools for future biological and medical lab-on-a-chip applications using polymers. The BASICs can be created by connecting existing and novel nanofluidic or microfluidic circuits in new ways. We are creating a library of these building blocks in order to develop multifunctional biochip systems: large scale single cell analysis chip, patch-clamps arrays, integrated SERS sensors on microfluidics, cell culture chips, sample preparation chips, high density cell trapping devices, cell lysing chips, cell manipulators, fast solution exchange microfluidic device, single cell electroporation arrays, and cell-cell communication devices.
Soft-state Biological Devices
Soft-state physics deals with soft materials at room temperature, such as polymers, biomolecular polymers, gels, colloidal particles, molecular films, or liquid crystals. In nature there are many examples of remarkable soft condensed systems with neural networks including visual systems, nerve systems, and our body. Biological soft solids are from proteins, which are biomolecular polymers. The most important biomolecular polymer is DNA, which stores genetic information. Moreover, soft-state materials (i.e. plastics or polymers) are ubiquitous nowadays. The BioPOETS would like to focus on the insect eyes and study the beauty of biophotonic system to create advanced biologically inspired optical systems (BiOS) using soft-state materials for medical devices as well as sensitive biological sensors.
The BioPOEMS are the hybrid system integrations of biophotonics and disposable nano- or microfluidic devices. As examples of nanoscale BioPOEMS, nanocavity-based biomolecular optoelectronic junctions are being developed for single molecular detection biochip, label-free bioassays, and protein folding/unfolding detections. For microscale BioPOEMS, micro-Confocal Imaging Array ( CIA), disposable Self-aligned Integrated Microfluidic Optical Devices (SIMOD), microarrays of total internal reflection fluorescent microscopy (TIRFM) on-a-chip, and Biologically-Inspired Optical Systems (BiOS) are developed for the simultaneous measurement of multiple parameters in the same sample at the same time.
In summary, the goals of BioPOETS are the development of functional biopoetic devices (i.e. high-speed, accurate, inexpensive, high throughput, and nanoscopic molecular analysis systems), the quantitative measurements of cellular dynamics in both space and time to decipher biological information, and writing sound papers on molecular medicine.