Document Type



Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Electrical Engineering

First Advisor's Name

Shekhar Bhansali

First Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Chair

Second Advisor's Name

Nezih Pala

Third Advisor's Name

Irene Calizo

Fourth Advisor's Name

Wei-Chiang Lin

Fifth Advisor's Name

Kinzy Jones


microfluidics, Electrochemical, Immunosensor, Cortisol

Date of Defense



This dissertation describes the development of a label-free, electrochemical immunosensing platform integrated into a low-cost microfluidic system for the sensitive, selective and accurate detection of cortisol, a steroid hormone co-related with many physiological disorders. Abnormal levels of cortisol is indicative of conditions such as Cushing’s syndrome, Addison’s disease, adrenal insufficiencies and more recently post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Electrochemical detection of immuno-complex formation is utilized for the sensitive detection of Cortisol using Anti-Cortisol antibodies immobilized on sensing electrodes. Electrochemical detection techniques such as cyclic voltammetry (CV) and electrochemical impedance spectroscopy (EIS) have been utilized for the characterization and sensing of the label-free detection of Cortisol. The utilization of nanomaterial’s as the immobilizing matrix for Anti-cortisol antibodies that leads to improved sensor response has been explored. A hybrid nano-composite of Polyanaline-Ag/AgO film has been fabricated onto Au substrate using electrophoretic deposition for the preparation of electrochemical immunosening of cortisol. Using a conventional 3-electrode electrochemical cell, a linear sensing range of 1pM to 1µM at a sensitivity of 66µA/M and detection limit of 0.64pg/mL has been demonstrated for detection of cortisol. Alternately, a self-assembled monolayer (SAM) of dithiobis(succinimidylpropionte) (DTSP) has been fabricated for the modification of sensing electrode to immobilize with Anti-Cortisol antibodies. To increase the sensitivity at lower detection limit and to develop a point-of-care sensing platform, the DTSP-SAM has been fabricated on micromachined interdigitated microelectrodes (µIDE). Detection of cortisol is demonstrated at a sensitivity of 20.7µA/M and detection limit of 10pg/mL for a linear sensing range of 10pM to 200nM using the µIDE’s.

A simple, low-cost microfluidic system is designed using low-temperature co-fired ceramics (LTCC) technology for the integration of the electrochemical cortisol immunosensor and automation of the immunoassay. For the first time, the non-specific adsorption of analyte on LTCC has been characterized for microfluidic applications. The design, fabrication technique and fluidic characterization of the immunoassay are presented. The DTSP-SAM based electrochemical immunosensor on µIDE is integrated into the LTCC microfluidic system and cortisol detection is achieved in the microfluidic system in a fully automated assay. The fully automated microfluidic immunosensor hold great promise for accurate, sensitive detection of cortisol in point-of-care applications.





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