Electrical and Electronic Engineering - Research Publications

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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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    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)
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    A single sensor based multispectral imaging camera using a narrow spectral band color mosaic integrated on the monochrome CMOS image sensor
    He, X ; Liu, Y ; Ganesan, K ; Ahnood, A ; Beckett, P ; Eftekhari, F ; Smith, D ; Uddin, MH ; Skafidas, E ; Nirmalathas, A ; Unnithan, RR (AIP Publishing LLC, 2020-04-01)
    A multispectral image camera captures image data within specific wavelength ranges in narrow wavelength bands across the electromagnetic spectrum. Images from a multispectral camera can extract a additional information that the human eye or a normal camera fails to capture and thus may have important applications in precision agriculture, forestry, medicine, and object identification. Conventional multispectral cameras are made up of multiple image sensors each fitted with a narrow passband wavelength filter and optics, which makes them heavy, bulky, power hungry, and very expensive. The multiple optics also create an image co-registration problem. Here, we demonstrate a single sensor based three band multispectral camera using a narrow spectral band red–green–blue color mosaic in a Bayer pattern integrated on a monochrome CMOS sensor. The narrow band color mosaic is made of a hybrid combination of plasmonic color filters and a heterostructured dielectric multilayer. The demonstrated camera technology has reduced cost, weight, size, and power by almost n times (where n is the number of bands) compared to a conventional multispectral camera.
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    Structural and functional brain abnormalities in children with schizotypal disorder: a pilot study
    Wang, Y ; Harding, IH ; Testa, R ; Tonge, B ; Jones, H ; Seal, M ; Ross, N ; Chan, RCK ; van Beurden, F ; Abu-Akel, A ; Skafidas, E ; Pantelis, C (Springer Nature, 2020-03-18)
    Schizotypal disorder lies in the schizophrenia spectrum and is widely studied in adult populations. Schizotypal disorder in children (SDc) is less well described. This study examined brain morphological and functional connectivity abnormalities in SDc (12 SDc and 9 typically developing children), focusing on the default mode and executive control brain networks. Results indicated that SDc is associated with reduced grey matter volume (GMV) in superior and medial frontal gyri, and increased resting-state functional connectivity between the superior frontal gyrus and inferior parietal lobule, compared to typically developing children (cluster-level FWE-corrected p < 0.05). The brain structure abnormality (GMV in left superior frontal gyrus) was correlated with clinical symptoms in SDc (r = −0.66, p = 0.026) and functional connectivity abnormality was correlated with extra-dimensional shifting impairments in all participants (r = 0.62, p = 0.011), suggesting their contribution to the underlying mechanisms of clinical presentation. These preliminary results motivate further work to characterize the neural basis of SDc and its significance as a risk factor for later psychosis.