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Single Cell Biology and Toxicology

Nanoelectrochemistry can examine a vast array of cellular functions, yet achieving the specificity, spatiotemporal resolution, and sensitivity needed to do so is not currently possible. Such measurements will enhance understanding of biology at the most fundamental level and create a rich new field of science. In addition to quantifying metabolism, our work may reveal single mitochondrion activity, detect metabolic changes due to DNA damage, and quantify chemical gradients with nanometer spatial resolution. The study of single cells promises to expose heterogeneities that cannot be observed when measuring many cells or tissue. Single cell genomics and transcriptomics take advantage of robust strategies to amplify DNA and RNA. Small molecule metabolites that make up the metabolome (i.e., glucose, lactate, fumarate, et al.) are incredibly difficult to quantify in a single cell because of low concentrations and the absence of amplification strategies. Mass spectrometric techniques suffer from low signal-to-noise and require that the cell be destroyed to make a measurement. Fluorescent protein biosensors have been developed for metabolites; however, these biosensors are not easily generalizable and require laser irradiation. We are developing nanoscience solutions to elucidate undiscovered dynamic changes, such as in a cell’s life cycle, differentiation of a stem cell, or real-time imaging of carcinogenesis.

Dendritic Gold Deposition

Gold is deposited at the surface of the micro/nano electrodes to artificially increase the surface at the electrode tip.

Electrochemical Aptamer-Based Sensors

Miniaturized micro-aptasensors are constructed through the dendritic deposition of gold at the electrode surface followed by the functionalization of target-specific aptamers on the surface.

Single Cell Analysis

Understanding the complex environment of a single cell can give us insight into the heterogeneity found within cell cultures. Understanding the factors behind this phenomenon can shed light on the origins of cancer which starts from a single cell.

Hyperspectral Imaging

Within only a few seconds, we can image several fluorescently-tagged species. Pictured here for proof-of-concept are four polystyrene beads each labeled with a different fluorophore.


Here, we show a coculture of HepG2 cells and U2OS cells.


Electrochemistry techniques such as Scanning Electrochemical Microscopy (SECM) can be used to differentiate between different cells in a coculture system.

PFOS and hyper spectral

The impact of environmental contaminants such as PFOS can be analyzed using electrochemical techniques on human cells.

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