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Light and electrons, a profitable dance

Over the past half-century, biosensors have opened a new window on the physical world while revolutionizing much of modern society.

By utilizing an electronic or optical system, biosensors detect and interact with the components of biological materials, making it possible to analyze DNA, measure the content of glucose in the blood, detect biotoxins in the water and the atmosphere and much more.

Sales of biosensors reached $8.5 billion worldwide in 2012 and are expected to double to $16.8 by 2018. The United States, with $2.6 billion in sales in 2012, leads the world market.

Rossin Doctoral Fellow Yongkang Gao '14 Ph.D. has spent much of the past three years using nanotechnology to improve the speed, efficiency and sensitivity of biosensors while dramatically decreasing their size and cost of operation.

His goal is to transform today’s relatively bulky surface plasmon resonance (SPR) biosensors, which take up most of a desktop, into nanoplasmonic biosensors that can be held in the hand and can perform hundreds of tests—medical, environmental or other—at a time.

Gao, who completed his Ph.D. in electrical engineering in January and is now a researcher with Bell labs in New Jersey, is the lead author on an article that a team of Lehigh engineering researchers published recently in the journal Lab on a Chip. The group also contributed the cover image for the issue.

Titled "Plasmonic interferometric sensor arrays for high-performance label-free biomolecular detection," the article was coauthored with Zheming Xin, Beibei Zeng, Qiaoqiang Gan, Xuanhong Cheng and Filbert J. Bartoli.

Read the full story in the Lehigh University News Center.

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Yongkang Gao

Yongkang Gao '14 Ph.D. (right) and Filbert J. Bartoli (Photo courtesy Christa Neu, Lehigh University)