Flexible polymer nanocomposites for microfluidics and wearable biosensors
Bonnie Gray, Ph.D., P.Eng.
Professor, Engineering Science
Simon Fraser University
Burnaby, BC Canada
The performance of both microfluidics and biosensors is intricately intertwined with the materials employed to fabricate them. Functional nanomaterials have recently gained interest for use in microfluidics and biosensors, resulting in devices and instruments with new principles of operation, improved performance, or improved portability. One area of focus is the development of highly flexible polymer nanocomposites with different functionalities, and their application to microfluidics, microelectromechanical systems (MEMS), and wearable biosensors. We investigate how such materials can be designed to improve the performance of small actuators for microfluidics devices; and to develop new highly flexible biosensors and sensor systems on textile and other flexible substrates. Magnetic polymer composites based on permanently-magnetizable hard magnetic particles are developed to yield improved performance in microfluidic cantilver, cilia, and membrane type actuators. Such actuation is integral to the operation of magnetically actuated valves, pumps, and mixers. Our actuators feature high volume stroke, easy manufacture, and self-aligning interconnect structures. Conductive polymer nanocomposites are developed to act as electronic interconnect and biosensor electrodes on flexible and wearable substrates, including textiles. Highly flexible materials based on silver nanoparticles result in non-polarizable electrode surfaces for improved frequency response that is essential for bioelectric and biochemical sensors. Other composite materials are developed that detect biomarkers in perspiration, biomechanical motion, or temperature. We present on-going development of these materials, and the devices, sensors, and systems that employ them.
Bonnie L. Gray joined the School of Engineering Science (ENSC) at Simon Fraser University (SFU) in Canada in 2003, where she is now a Full Professor, the ENSC Graduate Chair, and an elected member of University Senate. Dr. Gray is an Associate Member of the School of Biomedical Physiology and Kinesiology, and sits on the Advisory Board for the Vancouver Medical Device Development Centre. Dr. Gray has over 130 peer-reviewed journal and conference publications, including 25 invited and keynote papers. She also has 3 issued patents on conductive polymers, and wearable and reconfigurable microfluidics, and 4 invited book chapters. Dr. Gray is a dedicated mentor and the 2014 recipient of the SFU Dean of Graduate Studies Award for Excellence in Supervision. Dr. Gray was the Chapter Chair for the Vancouver IEEE Electron Devices Society (EDS) from 2007-2017, and organizer of two mini-colloquia in 2012 and 2017. She has chaired the SPIE Conference on Microfluidics, BioMEMS, & Medical Microsystems from 2014-2021; sits on the program committee for the 2020 and 2021 IEEE MEMS conferences; is a member of the International Advisory Committee for the 2019 IEEE Nanotechnology Materials and Devices Conference; and publicity chair for the 2021 IEEE Nanotechnology Materials and Devices Conference. Her current research interests include the development and application of novel materials and fabrication techniques for biomedical, microfluidic, and acoustic devices and systems; development of flexible and wearable microfluidic and biosensor technologies; point-of-care instruments; personalized medicine; and chip-based biological cell sorting and trapping methods.