Micro-Chameleons: Nonlinear Chemical Microsystems for Amplification and Sensing
Kyle J. M. Bishop1, Tim P. Gray2, Marcin Fialkowski3, and Bartosz A. Grzybowski3. (1) Dept of Chemical and Biological Engineering, Northwestern University, 2145 Sheridan Rd/TechE136, Evanston, IL 60208, (2) Chemistry, Northwestern University, 2145 Sheridan Rd/TechE136, Evanston, IL 60208, (3) Chemical Engineering, Northwestern University, 2145 Sheridan Rd/TechE136, Evanston, IL 60208
In biological systems, the coupling of nonlinear biochemical kinetics and molecular transport enables functional sensing and “signal” amplification across many length scales. Drawing on biological inspiration, I describe how artificial reaction-diffusion (RD) microsystems can provide a basis for sensing applications, capable of amplifying micro- and nanoscopic events into macroscopic visual readouts. The RD applications described here are based on a novel experimental technique, WETS for Wet Stamping, which offers unprecedented control over RD processes in microscopic and complex geometries. It is discussed how RD can be used to sense subtle differences in the thickness and/or absorptivity of thin absorptive films, amplify macromolecular phase transitions, detect the presence and quality of self-assembled monolayers, and provide dynamic spatiotemporal readouts of chemical “metabolites”.