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

Anuradha Godavarty

Third Advisor's Name

Wei-Chiang Lin

Fourth Advisor's Name

Barry Rosen


Biosensor, Nanotechnology, Surface Plasmon Resonance, Biomarker, Binding Kinetics

Date of Defense



Surface Plasmon Resonance (SPR) and localized surface plasmon resonance (LSPR) biosensors have brought a revolutionary change to in vitro study of biological and biochemical processes due to its ability to measure extremely small changes in surface refractive index (RI), binding equilibrium and kinetics. Strategies based on LSPR have been employed to enhance the sensitivity for a variety of applications, such as diagnosis of diseases, environmental analysis, food safety, and chemical threat detection. In LSPR spectroscopy, absorption and scattering of light are greatly enhanced at frequencies that excite the LSPR, resulting in a characteristic extinction spectrum that depends on the RI of the surrounding medium. Compositional and conformational change within the surrounding medium near the sensing surface could therefore be detected as shifts in the extinction spectrum.

This dissertation specifically focuses on the development and evaluation of highly sensitive LSPR biosensors for in situ study of biomolecular binding process by incorporating nanotechnology. Compared to traditional methods for biomolecular binding studies, LSPR-based biosensors offer real-time, label free detection. First, we modified the gold sensing surface of LSPR-based biosensors using nanomaterials such as gold nanoparticles (AuNPs) and polymer to enhance surface absorption and sensitivity. The performance of this type of biosensors was evaluated on the application of small heavy metal molecule binding affinity study. This biosensor exhibited ~7 fold sensitivity enhancement and binding kinetics measurement capability comparing to traditional biosensors. Second, a miniaturized cell culture system was integrated into the LSPR-based biosensor system for the purpose of real-time biomarker signaling pathway studies and drug efficacy studies with living cells. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first LSPR-based sensing platform with the capability of living cell studies. We demonstrated the living cell measurement ability by studying the VEGF signaling pathway in living SKOV-3 cells. Results have shown that the VEGF secretion level from SKOV-3 cells is 0.0137 ± 0.0012 pg per cell. Moreover, we have demonstrated bevacizumab drug regulation to the VEGF signaling pathway using this biosensor. This sensing platform could potentially help studying biomolecular binding kinetics which elucidates the underlying mechanisms of biotransportation and drug delivery.





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