Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Legacy Department



Zhang, Guigen

Committee Member

Creager , Stephen

Committee Member

Gao , Zhi

Committee Member

Webb , Ken


In-vitro assays using cultured cells have been widely performed for studying many aspects of cell biology and cell physiology. These assays also form the basis of cell based sensing. Presently, analysis procedures on cell cultures are done using techniques that are not integrated with the cell culture system. This approach makes continuous and real-time in-vitro measurements difficult. It is well known that the availability of continuous online measurements for extended periods of time will help provide a better understanding and will give better insight into cell physiological events.
With this motivation we developed a highly sensitive, selective and stable microfluidic electrochemical glucose biosensor to make continuous glucose measurements in cell culture media. The performance of the microfluidic biosensor was enhanced by adding 3D nanopillars to the electrode surfaces. The microfluidic glucose biosensor consisted of three electrodes - Enzyme electrode, Working electrode, and Counter electrode. All these electrodes were enhanced with nanopillars and were optimized in their respective own ways to obtain an effective and stable biosensing device in cell culture media. For example, the `Enzyme electrode' was optimized for enzyme immobilization via either a polypyrrole-based or a self-assembled-monolayer-based immobilization method, and the `Working electrode' was modified with Prussian Blue or electropolymerized Neutral Red to reduce the working potential and also the interference from other interacting electro-active species. The complete microfluidic biosensor was tested for its ability to monitor glucose concentration changes in cell culture media.
The significance of this work is multifold. First, the developed device may find applications in continuous and real-time measurements of glucose concentrations in in-vitro cell cultures. Second, the development of a microfluidic biosensor will bring technical know-how toward constructing continuous glucose monitoring devices. Third, the methods used to develop 3D electrodes incorporated with nanopillars can be used for other applications such as neural probes, fuel cells, solar cells etc., and finally, the knowledge obtained from the immobilization of enzymes onto nanostructures sheds some new insight into nanomaterial/biomolecule interactions.