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Department of Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology


Microfluidics and lab-on-a-chip technological advancements have provided opportunities to simulate and mimic the environment of cellular components and biological systems. The controllability of the system on a microscale allowed its application to extend to medical research as tools for cellular and molecular analysis, and rapid biological assays. Our group is particularly interested in applying the same technology for cellular culturing platforms for neurons, microglia and nematodes.

Transparent graphene-based Microelectrode Arrays permit the study of the effect of amyloid species on normal physiological function of neurons. Microelectrode arrays (MEAs) make recordings of neuronal action potentials using external microelectrodes. In the group, we design and fabricate custom MEAs to use in combination with microfluidic devices. We are also developing transparent graphene microelectrode arrays in collaboration with Dr. Antonio Lombardo at the Cambridge Graphene Centre. Graphene combines good electrical conductivity, optical transparency and chemical stability. The graphene MEA will permit simultaneous electrical recordings and superresolved images to be taken.

Agarose-based microtraps permit imaging of individual C. elegans during ageing. We are developing a microfabricated agarose devices that are capable of culturing hundreds of C. elegans at the single organism level and is compatible with Time Gated Fluorescence Lifetime Imaging (TG-FLIM) on live worms. Due to their short lifespan of a few weeks, the nematode C. elegans is an incredibly useful model to study neurodegenerative disorders associated with ageing, such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.

With this device, hundreds of worms can be cultured individually in their own agarose chambers in an array. The chamber was designed to fit the field of view of the microscope, so that fluorescence lifetime imaging could be automated, therefore enabling high throughput analysis at the single organism level, where a single worm can be tracked for several time points, thus any physiological differences in each worms expression and aggregation state of these proteins can be studied.


Brain-on-a-chip reveals single neuron to neuron propagation of amyloid proteins. Our brain-on-a-chip platform will permit control of the ordering and connectivity of single neurons under physiologically simulated conditions. The design is optimised for advanced optical imaging techniques, such as multi-parametric imaging and super-resolution microscopy to measure synaptic activity and for tracking amyloid protein trafficking between singly connected neurons.




Microfabrication techniques in cleanroom

Microfluidic fabrication

Microelectrode Arrays