Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Chemical Engineering (PhD)

Administrative Home Department

Department of Chemical Engineering

Advisor 1

Adrienne Minerick

Committee Member 1

Caryn Heldt

Committee Member 2

Tony N. Rogers

Committee Member 3

Smitha Rao


Microfluidic technologies enable the development of portable devices to perform multiple high-resolution unit operations with small sample and reagent volumes, low fabrication cost, facile operation, and quick response times. Microfluidic platforms are expected to effectively interpret both wanted and unwanted phenomena; however, a comprehensive evaluation of the unwanted phenomena has not been appropriately investigated in the literature. This work explored an attenuative evaluation of unwanted phenomena, also called here as secondary phenomena, in a unique approach.

Upon electric field utilization within microfluidic devices, electrode miniaturization improves device sensitivity. However, electrodes in contact with medium solution can yield byproducts that can change medium properties such as pH as well as bulk ion concentration and eventually target cell viability. While electrode byproducts are sometimes beneficial; but, this is not always the case. Two strategies were employed to protect cells from the electrode byproducts: (i) coating the electrodes with hafnium oxide (HfO2), and (ii) stabilization of the cell membrane using a low concentration of Triton X-100 surfactant. Our results showed that both strategies are a plausible way to selectively isolate cell and reduce the risk of contamination from electrode byproducts.

The design of a medium solution is also critical to minimize unwanted cell-medium interaction. Surfactants are frequently added to cell-medium solutions to improve sensitivity and reproducibility without disrupting protein composition of cell membranes or cell viability. In non-electrokinetic systems, surfactants have been shown to reduce interfacial tensions and prevent analyte sticking. However, the impacts of surfactant interactions with cell membranes have not previously been explored in electrokinetic systems. This work indicated the dynamic surfactant interactions with cell membranes which altered the cell membrane integrity. It is important that the effects of the chemical interactions between cells to be fully explored and to be separately attributed to reported cellular responses to accurate catalog properties and engineer reliable microfluidic electrokinetic devices.

Finally, a comprehensive level of understanding led us to utilize dielectrophoresis in its full capacity as a tool to monitor the state and progression of virus infection as well as anti-viral activities of regenerative compound. Glycine was utilized as potential antiviral compounds to reduce porcine parvovirus (PPV) infection in porcine kidney (PK-13) cells. Our results demonstrate that the glycine altered the virus-host interactions during virus assembly. Thus, elucidating the mechanisms of these novel antiviral compounds is crucial to their development as potential therapeutic drugs.