Environmental Analysis at the Nanoscale: From Sensor Development to Full Scale Data Processing
Willner, Marjorie Rose
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Raman spectroscopy is an extremely versatile technique with molecular sensitivity and fingerprint specificity. However, the translation of this tool into a deployable technology has been stymied by irreproducibility in sample preparation and the lack of complex data analysis tools. In this dissertation, a droplet microfluidic platform was prototyped to address both sample-to-sample variation and to introduce a level of quantitation to surface enhanced Raman spectroscopy (SERS). Shifting the SERS workflow from a cell-to-cell mapping routine to the mapping of tens to hundreds of cells demanded the development of an automated processing tool to perform basic SERS analyses such as baseline correction, peak feature selection, and SERS map generation. The analysis tool was subsequently expanded for use with a multitude of diverse SERS applications. Specifically, a two-dimensional SERS assay for the detection of sialic acid residues on the cell membrane was translated into a live cell assay by utilizing a droplet microfluidic device. Combining single-cell encapsulation with a chamber array to hold and immobilize droplets allowed for the interrogation of hundreds of droplets. Our novel application of computer vision algorithms to SERS maps revealed that sialic sugars on cancer cell membranes are found in small clusters, or islands, and that these islands typically occupy less than 30% of the cell surface area. Employing an opportunistic mindset for the application of the data processing platform, a number of smaller projects were pursued. Biodegradable aliphatic-aromatic copolyesters with varying aromatic content were characterized using Raman spectroscopy and principal component analysis (PCA). The six different samples could successfully be distinguished from one another and the tool was able to identify spectral feature changes resulting from an increasing number of aryl esters. Uniquely, PCA was performed on the 3,125 spectra collected from each sample to investigate point-to-point heterogeneities. A third set of projects evaluated the ability of the data processing tool to calculate spectral ratios in an automated fashion and were exploited for use with nano-pH probes and Rayleigh hot-spot normalization.
- Doctoral Dissertations