Identifying Harmful Biological Agents

NJIT's Dawn Bennett at Sandia Labs with Drs. Paul Galambos, Conrad James and Murat Okandan.

The development of a portable MEMS (microelectromechanical systems) device as part of a biological detection system is the focus of a joint research project between NJIT and Sandia National Laboratories in Albuquerque, N.M., the government facility charged with developing technologies to support national security. The device (photo right) -- known as a trigger -- is the key component in a system for the rapid and accurate identification of harmful biological agents in field and urban environments. The team includes Boris Khusid (photo left), associate professor of mechanical engineering, and his doctoral students in mechanical engineering, Nik Markarian, Mike Yeksel, and Dawn Bennett, from NJIT, and from Sandia, Paul Galambos, who is Bennett's co-advisor, and Conrad James and Murat Okandan.

The new approach of the team is the use of electro-hydrodynamic phenomena in a suspension subject to electric fields to control and manipulate microscopic particles in flowing fluids for the segregation and concentration of biological material in microfluidics. Other potential applications of electro-micro-technologies include tiny separation devices for a wide variety of systems for environment monitoring, health care, and medical diagnostics. The electro-microfluidics are currently being tested at NJIT and Sandia where Bennett is serving a one-year internship. She is a recipient of an NSF-supported MAGNET (Minority Access and Graduate Networking) doctoral fellowship.