Purdue University Graduate School
Gondhalekar Carmen dissertation thesis office edit 2.pdf (6.54 MB)

Laser-induced breakdown spectroscopy applications for metal-labeled biomolecule detection in paper assays

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posted on 2020-06-29, 01:58 authored by Carmen GondhalekarCarmen Gondhalekar
This doctoral thesis investigates the application of laser-induced breakdown spectroscopy (LIBS) for detection of labeled biomolecules on nitrocellulose paper. Nitrocellulose paper is a material often used for assays involving the concentration and labeling of a target analyte, followed by label detection. Among paper-based diagnostics are lateral-flow immuno-assays (LFIAs). Research efforts have made LFIAs into accessible, portable,and low-cost tools for detecting targets such as allergens, toxins,and microbes in food and water.Gold (Au) nanoparticles are standard biomolecular labels among LFIAs, typically detected via colorimetric means.Other labels, such as quantum dots, are also often metallic, and research is ongoing to expand the number of portable instrumentations applied to their detection. A wide diversity of lanthanide-complexed polymers (LCPs) are used as immunoassay labels but have been inapt for portable paper-based assays owing to lab-bound detection instrumentation, until now. LIBS is a multi-element characterization technique which has recently developed from a bench-top to a portable/hand-held analytical tool. This is among the first studies to show that LCPs can be considered as options for biomolecule labels in paper-based assays using bench-based and hand-held LIBS as label detection modalities.
Chapter one reviews the importance of rapid, multiplexed detection of chemical and biological contaminants, the application of current biosensors, and the role of LIBS as an emerging biosensor. Paper-based bioassays were identified as a promising approach for contaminant detection whose capabilities could be enhanced by LIBS. The next chapter dives into LIBS system designs to address which LIBS parameters were appropriate for label detection on paper assay material. A balance of LIBS parameters was found to be important for successful analyte detection. Chaptert hree optimizes a LIBS design for sensitive detection of 17 metals and establishes limit of detection values for 7 metals. Optimal detection parameters depended on the metal being detected and were applied to the objective of the final chapter: LIBS detection of labeled antigen immobilized on a paper-based assay. Both antibody and bacteria detection assays were successfully performed and analyzed using bench top and portable LIBS,suggesting an exciting future for the use of LIBS as a biosensor.The prospect of using LIBS for multiplexed, rapid and sensitive detection of biomolecules in assays is explored, laying grounds for future work in the ever-relevant field of biological and chemical hazard detection.


National Science Foundation (DGE-1333468)


Degree Type

  • Doctor of Philosophy


  • Biomedical Engineering

Campus location

  • West Lafayette

Advisor/Supervisor/Committee Chair

J. Paul Robinson

Additional Committee Member 2

Bartek Rajwa

Additional Committee Member 3

Euiwon Bae

Additional Committee Member 4

Jaqueline Linnes