University of Maryland,
Keywords: bacterial biofilms, infections, sensors
Summary:Bacterial biofilms are the primary cause of severe clinical infections and contamination of environmental facilities. They have complex structures and are composed of heterogeneous bacterial strains enveloped in an extracellular matrix (ECM) and their treatment requires 500-5000 times higher concentrations of antibiotics in to planktonic bacteria . Micro-devices provide a more versatile and superior solution for biofilm investigations, as they have significant advantages like low volume requirement, high throughput experiments, sensitive detection and real-time monitoring. In this work, we give an overview of the recent developments of micro-nano-biosystems in our group for the characterization, sensing and treatment of biofilms. Non-invasive characterization of biofilms was demonstrated using integrated opto-electronic microfluidic systems that not only provide parallel operation, and a tightly controllable micro-environment, but also spatiotemporal information [2-4]. Multi-layer microfluidics with novel valved geometries were also designed and fabricated to enable uniform biofilm growth and provide more rigorous controls for biofilm studies [4, 5]. While in- vitro biofilm models provide a means for scientific characterization of biofilms in a controlled environment, there exists a critical need for in-situ management of biofilm associated adverse effects, such as infectious diseases. A surface acoustic wave (SAW) micro-sensor, with integrated electrodes for treatment using bioelectric effect (BE) was developed for the early detection and effective treatment of biofilms . Additionally, an integrated interdigitated electrode (IDE)-based impedance sensor and treatment system that enables real-time sensing and autonomous BE treatment of biofilms was also realized. Such integrated systems provide smart microsystem solutions towards rapid and autonomous in-situ management of biofilm infections. The real-time sensing platforms enabled by lab-on-a-chip technology presented above are expected to provide exciting applications of microsystems for both in-vitro biofilm studies in research labs and in-vivo biofilm sensing and treatment in clinical settings to manage biofilm based infections effectively.