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Pioneering Research in Chemical & Biological Sensors


The goal of the NU-NSEC is to develop novel biological and chemical sensor modalities (recognition and signal transduction)
based upon an understanding of biorecognition and the chemistry, physics, and engineering of functional surface architectures with sub-100 nanometer features. This is accomplished in part by exploiting and further developing several emerging patterning tools and synthetic methods unique to this Center, that allow one to fabricate such structures.

These techniques, together with unique capabilities in surface structure characterization that are currently localized at the participating institutions, provide a shared basis for the design and fabrication of integrated soft nanostructures and sensing systems, and offer a unique opportunity for collaborative inquiry of both fundamental scientific and technological value. The development of patterning technologies that provide access to the 1-100 nm length scale represents one of the greatest and perhaps most important challenges to the field of nanotechnology. While such technologies could significantly impact a variety of disciplines, they will have an enormous impact in the detection arena and be realizable in the near future.

Center research is organized into three synergistic research groups (SRGs).

The Nanopatterning SRG under the leadership of Professor Mark Hersam develops and refines sub-100 nm patterning methods.

The Signal Transduction and Receptor Design (STRD) SRG (formerly the Optical Nanoarray SRG) under the leadership of Professor Milan Mrksich focuses on the development of optical, electrochemical and mass spectrometric sensing strategies for transducing the binding of an analyte to a receptor into a measurable signal, and with the initial implementation of these strategies for the detection of biological and chemical analytes.

The Integrated Biodetection Chip Synergistic Research Group (or I-Chip SRG, formerly the E-Chip SRG) under the leadership of Professor Vinayak Dravid is working to design and prototype an integrated microfluidic device for ultrasensitive and selective bioanalyte detection.

Finally, the Center recognizes that higher-risk projects can often lead to major advances. PIs are seed-funded each year to address novel approaches to sensor or nanolithography development.


Latest News

Two dimensional superconducting nanocrystals developed with soft chemical methods.

Read Article >>

Curved nanostructures of gold and conducting polymers.

Neurons grown in synthetic nanofiber matrix show promise for paralysis victims.

  Center annual reports are available below as PDF documents. If you do not have Adobe Reader® software click on the icon to the left to download a free copy .

2010 Annual Report

2009 Annual Report

2008 Annual Report

2007 Annual Report

2006 Annual Report

2005 Annual Report

2004 Annual Report

2003 Annual Report

2002 Annual Report


Nanoscale Science & Engineering Center | Northwestern University
2145 Sheridan Road, K111 | Evanston, IL 60208
Phone: (847) 491-5784 | Fax: (847) 491-3721
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