In 183A, students design and fabricate a polymer-based lab-on-a-chip device to measure concentrations of a fluorescent compound. The device also incorporates a student-built photodetector incorporating an A/D converter and binary digital output. The device must be calibrated and then determine the concentration of an unknown solution to within 5%. The lab teaches project documentation, project management, scheduling, and teamwork. In addition, students are exposed to nanotechnology concepts and polymer nanofabrication techniques as an introduction to advanced research and development. The project is accomplished in 2 hour lab sessions meeting once per week for 10 weeks. Chemical engineering principles are introduced via a safe polymerization reaction (polydimethylsiloxane, PDMS), fluid flow in microchannels, and fluorescence detection.
In H193A, students do a more involved application of lab-on-a-chip developing a test device for measuring surface topology effects on yeast cell adhesion. Students also must design and construct a mechanical holder for the PDMS chip. This course meets for 7 hours a week in the laboratory and allows for more involved experimentation. Similar chemical engineering principles are introduced along with the biological basis for cell adhesion to surfaces.
In this talk, the course and project will be described, along with student survey results and preliminary tracking data to determine subsequent curriculum choices of students, particularly related to undergraduate research.