Professor Abraham "Abe" Lee's research interest focuses on the development of integrated micro and nano fluidic chip processors for the manipulation and self-assembly of biomolecules and other synthesized nanoparticles. These integrated chip processors will also be designed for the sample preparation of biological fluids to extract the required ingredients for on-chip transducers. Applications for these fluidic processors include programmable precision production of biological reagents for nanomedicine, biomolecular nanosystems that utilize biophysics principles, and platforms to perform controlled studies of molecule-molecule/cell-molecule interactions.
With the research community's recent focus on nanotechnology, nanotransducers with unique functions are being developed for various biological applications. Examples include quantum dots for molecular beacons, synthetic peptides to mimic cellular functions, carbon nanotubes for electronic detection of biomolecules, DNA-based transducers produced by directed self-assembly, and liposomes for targeted drug delivery. Most of these "nanotransducers" are generated by batch mixing of chemicals and reagents, limiting the yield and requiring larger volumes of reagents than necessary. They are also mostly limited to single functions and components research with little or no integration and scale-up. However, to truly unveil biological events such as cell signaling pathways, genetic mutation processes, or the immune responses to pathogens, one must have a method to generate large-scale, multifunctional nano-bio interfaces with readout and control. Professor Lee's research group is developing integrated microfluidic platforms with the goal of generating programmable synthesis of multifunctional nanotransducers.
Current integrated microfluidic devices lack the capability to locally control flow inside the microchannels. It is also difficult to implement fluidic circuits that exploit critical interfacial forces in biological cells with an ultimate goal to function at the complexity of biomolecular interactions. One of our approaches is to develop microfluidic devices based on the principle of "Lorentz" forces to develop "magnetohydrodynamic (MHD) microfluidic systems". This platform can incorporate complex microfluidic components such as pumps, valves, and flow sensors on a general microfabrication platform. It can also enable complex microfluidic circuits with local flow control to be established without the need of external fluidic control manifolds. The MHD microfluidic systems will be implemented with innovative polymeric microfabrication processes.
Other research interests of professor Lee include microtools for real-time, minimally invasive therapy and imaging of the brain and micro devices for distributed surveillance in liquid-based environments.