Document Type



Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Biomedical Engineering

First Advisor's Name

Chenzhong Li

First Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Chair

Second Advisor's Name

Ranu Jung

Second Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Member

Third Advisor's Name

Shekhar Bhansali

Third Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Member

Fourth Advisor's Name

Wei-Chiang Lin

Fourth Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Member

Fifth Advisor's Name

Sharan Ramaswamy

Fifth Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Member


Nanotoxicity, Electrochemistry, Single Cell, Cell Electronics, Dielectrophoresis, Bio-MEMS, Nanotechnology

Date of Defense



Increasing useof nanomaterials in consumer products and biomedical applications creates the possibilities of intentional/unintentional exposure to humans and the environment. Beyond the physiological limit, the nanomaterialexposure to humans can induce toxicity. It is difficult to define toxicity of nanoparticles on humans as it varies by nanomaterialcomposition, size, surface properties and the target organ/cell line. Traditional tests for nanomaterialtoxicity assessment are mostly based on bulk-colorimetric assays. In many studies, nanomaterials have found to interfere with assay-dye to produce false results and usually require several hours or days to collect results. Therefore, there is a clear need for alternative tools that can provide accurate, rapid, and sensitive measure of initial nanomaterialscreening. Recent advancement in single cell studies has suggested discovering cell properties not found earlier in traditional bulk assays. A complex phenomenon, like nanotoxicity, may become clearer when studied at the single cell level, including with small colonies of cells. Advances in lab-on-a-chip techniques have played a significant role in drug discoveries and biosensor applications, however, rarely explored for nanomaterialtoxicity assessment. We presented such cell-integrated chip-based approach that provided quantitative and rapid response of cellhealth, through electrochemical measurements. Moreover, the novel design of the device presented in this study was capable of capturing and analyzing the cells at a single cell and small cell-population level. We examined the change in exocytosis (i.e. neurotransmitterrelease) properties of a single PC12 cell, when exposed to CuOand TiO2 nanoparticles. We found both nanomaterials to interfere with the cell exocytosis function. We also studied the whole-cell response of a single-cell and a small cell-population simultaneously in real-time for the first time. The presented study can be a reference to the future research in the direction of nanotoxicity assessment to develop miniature, simple, and cost-effective tool for fast, quantitative measurements at high throughput level. The designed lab-on-a-chip device and measurement techniques utilized in the present work can be applied for the assessment of othernanoparticles' toxicity, as well.





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