Electrical and Electronic Engineering - Research Publications

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    Design and Optimisation of Elliptical-Shaped Planar Hall Sensor for Biomedical Applications
    Uddin, SM ; Sayad, A ; Chan, J ; Skafidas, E ; Kwan, P (MDPI, 2022-02-01)
    The magnetic beads detection-based immunoassay, also called magneto-immunoassay, has potential applications in point-of-care testing (POCT) due to its unique advantage of minimal background interference from the biological sample and associated reagents. While magnetic field detection technologies are well established for numerous applications in the military, as well as in geology, archaeology, mining, spacecraft, and mobile phones, adaptation into magneto-immunoassay is yet to be explored. The magnetic field biosensors under development tend to be multilayered and require an expensive fabrication process. A low-cost and affordable biosensing platform is required for an effective point-of-care diagnosis in a resource-limited environment. Therefore, we evaluated a single-layered magnetic biosensor in this study to overcome this limitation. The shape-induced magnetic anisotropy-based planar hall effect sensor was recently developed to detect a low-level magnetic field, but was not explored for medical application. In this study, the elliptical-shaped planar hall effect (EPHE) sensor was designed, fabricated, characterized, and optimized for the magneto-immunoassay, specifically. Nine sensor variants were designed and fabricated. A customized measurement setup incorporating a lock-in amplifier was used to quantify 4.5 µm magnetic beads in a droplet. The result indicated that the single-domain behaviour of the magnetic film and larger sensing area with a thinner magnetic film had the highest sensitivity. The developed sensor was tested with a range of magnetic bead concentrations, demonstrating a limit of detection of 200 beads/μL. The sensor performance encourages employing magneto-immunoassay towards developing a low-cost POCT device in the future.
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    Letter: improved parsimony of genetic risk scores for coeliac disease through refined HLA modelling
    Erlichster, M ; Bedo, J ; Skafidas, E ; Kwan, P ; Kowalczyk, A ; Goudey, B (WILEY, 2021-03-01)
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    Meander Thin-Film Biosensor Fabrication to Investigate the Influence of Structural Parameters on the Magneto-Impedance Effect
    Sayad, A ; Uddin, SM ; Chan, J ; Skafidas, E ; Kwan, P (MDPI, 2021-10-01)
    Thin-film magneto-impedance (MI) biosensors have attracted significant attention due to their high sensitivity and easy miniaturization. However, further improvement is required to detect weak biomagnetic signals. Here, we report a meander thin-film biosensor preparation to investigate the fabrication parameters influencing the MI effect. Specifically, we hypothesized that an optimal film thickness and sensing area size ratio could be achieved to obtain a maximum MI ratio. A meander multilayer MI biosensor based on a NiFe/Cu/NiFe thin-film was designed and fabricated into 3-, 6-, and 9-turn models with film thicknesses of 3 µm and 6 µm. The 9-turn biosensor resembled the largest sensing area, while the 3- and 6-turn biosensors were designed with identical sensing areas. The results indicated that the NiFe film thickness of 6 µm with a sensing area size of 14.4 mm2 resembling a 9-turn MI biosensor is the optimal ratio yielding the maximum MI ratio of 238%, which is 70% larger than the 3- and 6-turn structures. The 3- and 6-turn MI biosensors exhibited similar characteristics where the MI ratio peaked at a similar value. Our results suggest that the MI ratio can be increased by increasing the sensing area size and film thickness rather than the number of turns. We showed that an optimal film thickness to sensing area size ratio is required to obtain a high MI ratio. Our findings will be useful for designing highly sensitive MI biosensors capable of detecting low biomagnetic signals.
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    Utility of Pan-Family Assays for Rapid Viral Screening: Reducing Delays in Public Health Responses During Pandemics
    Erlichster, M ; Chana, G ; Zantomio, D ; Goudey, B ; Skafidas, E ( 2020-05-26)

    Summary

    Background

    The SARS-CoV-2 pandemic has highlighted deficiencies in the testing capacity of many developed countries during the early stages of emerging pandemics. Here we describe the potential for pan-family viral assays to improve early accessibility of large-scale nucleic acid testing.

    Methods

    Coronaviruses and SARS-CoV-2 were used as a case-study for investigating the utility of pan-family viral assays during the early stages of a novel pandemic. Specificity of a pan-coronavirus (Pan-CoV) assay for viral detection was assessed using the frequency of common human coronavirus (HCoV) species in key populations. A reported Pan-CoV assay was assessed to determine sensitivity to SARS-CoV-2 and 59 other coronavirus species. The resilience of the primer target regions of this assay to mutation was assessed in 8893 high quality SARS-CoV-2 genomes to predict ongoing utility during pandemic progression.

    Findings

    Due to infection with common HCoV species, a Pan-CoV assay would return a false positive for as few as 1% of asymptomatic adults, but up to 30% of immunocompromised patients displaying symptoms of respiratory disease. Two of the four reported pan-coronavirus assays would have identified SARS-CoV-2 and we demonstrate that with small adjustments to the primers, these assays can accommodate novel variation observed in animal coronaviruses. The assay target region of one well established Pan-CoV assay is highly resistant to mutation compared to regions targeted by other widely applied SARS-CoV-2 RT-PCR assays.

    Interpretation

    Pan-family assays have the potential to greatly assist management of emerging public health emergencies through prioritization of high-resolution testing or isolation measures, despite limitations in test specificity due to cross-reactivity with common pathogens. Targeting highly conserved genomic regions make pan-family assays robust and resilient to mutation of a given virus. This approach may be applicable to other viral families and has utility as part of a strategic stockpile of tests maintained to better contain spread of novel diseases prior to the widespread availability of specific assays.
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    Heater Integrated Lab-on-a-Chip Device for Rapid HLA Alleles Amplification towards Prevention of Drug Hypersensitivity
    Uddin, SM ; Sayad, A ; Chan, J ; Huynh, DH ; Skafidas, E ; Kwan, P (MDPI, 2021-05-01)
    HLA-B*15:02 screening before administering carbamazepine is recommended to prevent life-threatening hypersensitivity. However, the unavailability of a point-of-care device impedes this screening process. Our research group previously developed a two-step HLA-B*15:02 detection technique utilizing loop-mediated isothermal amplification (LAMP) on the tube, which requires two-stage device development to translate into a portable platform. Here, we report a heater-integrated lab-on-a-chip device for the LAMP amplification, which can rapidly detect HLA-B alleles colorimetrically. A gold-patterned micro-sized heater was integrated into a 3D-printed chip, allowing microfluidic pumping, valving, and incubation. The performance of the chip was tested with color dye. Then LAMP assay was conducted with human genomic DNA samples of known HLA-B genotypes in the LAMP-chip parallel with the tube assay. The LAMP-on-chip results showed a complete match with the LAMP-on-tube assay, demonstrating the detection system's concurrence.
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    Detection of voluntary dehydration in paediatric populations using non-invasive point-of-care saliva and urine testing
    Faidah, N ; Soraya, G ; Erlichster, M ; Natzir, R ; Chana, G ; Skafidas, E ; Hardjo, M ; Ganda, IJ ; Bahar, B (WILEY, 2020-12-29)
    AIM: Voluntary dehydration, or lack of fluid intake despite water availability, is common in otherwise healthy children, and can lead to adverse effects. Most dehydration biomarkers are impractical for routine assessment in paediatric populations. This study aimed to assess two non-invasive hydration assessment tools, urine specific gravity (USG ) and a novel point-of-care (POC) salivary osmolarity (SOSM) sensor, in healthy children. METHODS: Volunteers were tested by colorimetric USG and a handheld SOSM system. Observed values were compared against previous studies to determine hydration status, as was the concordance between parameters. RESULTS: At the common USG threshold of 1.020, 42.4% of the 139 healthy children were dehydrated. The same prevalence was found using the 70-mOSM cut-off value. Comparative analysis of SOSM at varying USG thresholds demonstrated significantly higher SOSM in dehydrated children with a USG  ≥ 1.030 (P = 0.002). CONCLUSION: At the USG threshold of 1.020 and SOSM threshold of 70 mOSM, 42.4% of healthy children were found to be voluntarily dehydrated. Significantly higher SOSM was observed in dehydrated children (USG  ≥ 1.030). As the first study on the utility of POC SOSM measurements for detecting dehydration, these results provide a foundation for future POC characterisation of SOSM in other populations and clinical contexts.
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    Pan-Family Assays for Rapid Viral Screening: Reducing Delays in Public Health Responses During Pandemics
    Erlichster, M ; Chana, G ; Zantomio, D ; Goudey, B ; Skafidas, E (OXFORD UNIV PRESS INC, 2021-02-12)
    BACKGROUND: Coronavirus disease 2019 has highlighted deficiencies in the testing capacity of many developed countries during the early stages of pandemics. Here we describe a strategy using pan-family viral assays to improve early accessibility of large-scale nucleic acid testing. METHODS: Coronaviruses and severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) were used as a case study for assessing utility of pan-family viral assays during the early stages of a novel pandemic. Specificity of a pan-coronavirus (Pan-CoV) assay for a novel pathogen was assessed using the frequency of common human coronavirus (HCoV) species in key populations. A reported Pan-CoV assay was assessed to determine sensitivity to 60 reference coronaviruses, including SARS-CoV-2. The resilience of the primer target regions of this assay to mutation was assessed in 8893 high-quality SARS-CoV-2 genomes to predict ongoing utility during pandemic progression. RESULTS: Because of common HCoV species, a Pan-CoV assay would return false positives for as few as 1% of asymptomatic adults, but up to 30% of immunocompromised patients with respiratory disease. One-half of reported Pan-CoV assays identify SARS-CoV-2 and with small adjustments can accommodate diverse variation observed in animal coronaviruses. The target region of 1 well-established Pan-CoV assay is highly resistant to mutation compared to species-specific SARS-CoV-2 reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction assays. CONCLUSIONS: Despite cross-reactivity with common pathogens, pan-family assays may greatly assist management of emerging pandemics through prioritization of high-resolution testing or isolation measures. Targeting highly conserved genomic regions make pan-family assays robust and resilient to mutation. A strategic stockpile of pan-family assays may improve containment of novel diseases before the availability of species-specific assays.
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    Recent advances in printable thermoelectric devices: materials, printing techniques, and applications
    Hossain, MS ; Li, T ; Yu, Y ; Yong, J ; Bahk, J-H ; Skafidas, S (ROYAL SOC CHEMISTRY, 2020-02-25)
    Thermoelectric devices have great potential as a sustainable energy conversion technology to harvest waste heat and perform spot cooling with high reliability. However, most of the thermoelectric devices use toxic and expensive materials, which limits their application. These materials also require high-temperature fabrication processes, limiting their compatibility with flexible, bio-compatible substrate. Printing electronics is an exciting new technique for fabrication that has enabled a wide array of biocompatible and conformable systems. Being able to print thermoelectric devices allows them to be custom made with much lower cost for their specific application. Significant effort has been directed toward utilizing polymers and other bio-friendly materials for low-cost, lightweight, and flexible thermoelectric devices. Fortunately, many of these materials can be printed using low-temperature printing processes, enabling their fabrication on biocompatible substrates. This review aims to report the recent progress in developing high performance thermoelectric inks for various printing techniques. In addition to the usual thermoelectric performance measures, we also consider the attributes of flexibility and the processing temperatures. Finally, recent advancement of printed device structures is discussed which aims to maximize the temperature difference across the junctions.
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    Magneto-Impedance Biosensor Sensitivity: Effect and Enhancement
    Sayad, A ; Skafidas, E ; Kwan, P (MDPI, 2020-09-01)
    Biosensors based on magneto-impedance (MI) effect are powerful tools for biomedical applications as they are highly sensitive, stable, exhibit fast response, small in size, and have low hysteresis and power consumption. However, the performance of these biosensors is influenced by a variety of factors, including the design, geometry, materials and fabrication procedures. Other less appreciated factors influencing the MI effect include measuring circuit implementation, the material used for construction, geometry of the thin film sensing element, and patterning shapes compatible with the interface microelectronic circuitry. The type magnetic (ferrofluid, Dynabeads, and nanoparticles) and size of the particles, the magnetic particle concentration, magnetic field strength and stray magnetic fields can also affect the sensor sensitivity. Based on these considerations it is proposed that ideal MI biosensor sensitivity could be achieved when the sensor is constructed in sandwich thick magnetic layers with large sensing area in a meander shape, measured with circuitry that provides the lowest possible external inductance at high frequencies, enclosed by a protective layer between magnetic particles and sensing element, and perpendicularly magnetized when detecting high-concentration of magnetic particles.
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    Low-Temperature Solution-Processed Transparent QLED Using Inorganic Metal Oxide Carrier Transport Layers
    Yu, Y ; Liang, Y ; Yong, J ; Li, T ; Hossain, MS ; Liu, Y ; Hu, Y ; Ganesan, K ; Skafidas, E (WILEY-V C H VERLAG GMBH, 2021-09-15)