Conductive polymer composites for biosensing and bioelectronic applications

Introduction

Conductive polymer composites (for example based on PEDOT:PSS) are a vivid interdisciplinary research field. They are particularly interesting as they can be biochemically modified to bind target proteins or DNA strands. This is important for the detection of specific antigens such as cancer biomarkers or viruses in body fluids. Electrodes made from conductive polymers can also be used for the detection of small molecules such as dopamine, which is the predominant neurotransmitter in brain areas most affected by Parkinson’s disease. Furthermore, polymer inks can be easily adapted for novel additive manufacturing methods such as screen printing or aerosol-jet printing. These rapid prototyping techniques feature advantages in comparison to classical fabrication methods, i.e. they are fast, cheap, and give versatile options for three-dimensional electrode structures.

Aim & Research Methods

In this project we want to investigate the functionality of different conductive polymer composite inks for biosensing applications in a proof-of-concept device. Your task will be to:

  1. …prepare different conductive polymer composite inks (PEDOT:PSS with carbon nanotubes),...
  2. …investigate the detection of dopamine under presence of different interfering redox active species with chips that feature printed 3D needle electrodes,...
  3. …biochemically functionalize the electrodes with aptamers for label-free detection of target proteins or DNA,...
  4. …investigate the electrochemical properties and detection of the target via electrochemical blocking of a probe molecule, i.e. dopamine or ferrocene.

You will be introduced in an interdisciplinary working environment and will learn the following techniques:

  1. electrical/electrochemical characterization methods (impedance spectroscopy, cyclic voltammetry, squarewave voltammetry)
  2. biochemical modification of conductive polymer composites
  3. the concept of inkjet-printing and aerosol-jet printing of functional devices
  4. optical characterization (DIC microscopy, confocal laser profilometry)

Requirements

  1. dedication and motivation to work on an interdisciplinary research topic
  2. excellent analytical and experimental skills
  3. programming skills for data analysis (e.g. Matlab or Python)

Possible starting date & further information

Potential starting date is as soon as possible. For further details and application contact Sabine Zips or Bernhard Wolfrum in person.