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. 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 gold nanoparticles or carbon nanotubes)
  2. …establish a reliable fabrication process for a proof-of-concept device (e.g. drop casting on inkjet-printed metal feedlines)
  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 

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

  1. synthesis and surface coating of gold nanoparticles
  2. biochemical modification of conductive polymer composites
  3. electrical/electrochemical characterization methods (impedance spectroscopy, cyclic voltammetry, squarewave voltammetry)
  4. plating of gold on printed silver electrodes (electrogalvanization)
  5. the concept of inkjet-printing and aerosol-jet printing of functional devices
  6. 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. The minimum duration is 6 months (Master’s project or internship). For further details and application contact Sabine Zips or Bernhard Wolfrum in person.