Mentors: Berron, Hastings
Surface-plasmon resonance (SPR) sensing is a widely used optical technique for detecting and analyzing biochemical interactions. It has found applications in diverse fields such as medical diagnostics, drug discovery, and environmental monitoring. A key challenge for SPR is maximizing sensitivity to a target analyte while minimizing response to interfering species. Dr. Hastings’ group has developed several SPR sensors that use optical methods to distinguish specific and non-specific interactions. Dr. Berron’s group has developed stable, low-density self-assembled monolayers that are ideal for functionalizing the gold surfaces common to SPR sensors. The tunable density of exposed functional groups should allow optimization of the interaction with a chosen target, while suppressing non-specific protein binding. In addition, the SPR technique itself will increase our understanding of the kinetics of protein adsorption on low-density monolayers. Students working on this project will study the interaction of low density monolayers with certain proteins, the functionalization of these monolayers to target specific interactions, and/or the further development of multi-mode surface-plasmon resonance sensor systems.