This Is AuburnElectronic Theses and Dissertations

Detection of Biological Pathogens Using Multiple Wireless Magnetoelastic Biosensors




Shen, Wen

Type of Degree



Materials Engineering


A number of recent, high-profile incidences of food-borne illness spreading through the food supply and the use of anthrax by terrorists after the September 11, 2001 attacks have demonstrated the need for new technologies that can rapidly detect the presence of biological pathogens. A bevy of biosensors show excellent detection sensitivity and specificity. However, false positive and false negative signals remain one of the primary reasons that many of these newly developed biosensors have not found application in the marketplace. The research described in this dissertation focuses on developing a free-standing magnetoelastic based bio-sensing system using a pulse method. This method allows fast detection, eliminates the bias magnetic field that is necessary in current methods, makes the system more simply and suitable for in-field detection. This system has two pairs of transformer coils, where a measurement sensor and a control sensor can be put in each pair of coils. The control sensor is used to compensate for environmental variables. The effect of pulse power on the performance of the magnetoelastic sensors in the pulse system is studied. The system is found to have excellent stability, good detection repeatability when used with multiple sensors. This research has investigated and demonstrated a multiple sensors approach. Because it will involve the simultaneous measurement of many sensors, it will significantly reduce problems encountered with false positive indications. The positioning and interference of sensors are investigated. By adding a multi-channel structure to the pulse detection system, the effect of sensor interference is minimized. The result of the repeatability test shows that the standard deviation when measuring three 1 mm magnetoelastic sensors is around 500 Hz, which is smaller than the minimum requirement for actual spores/bacteria detection. Magnetoelastic sensors immobilized with JRB7 phages and E2 phages have been used to specifically detect Bacillus anthracis spores and Salmonella typhimurium bacteria. The real-time monitoring of the detection of B. anthracis spores in a following system was performed using 2 mm sensors and 1 mm sensors. The detection of S. typhimurium in air has been performed using the pulse based system with both single and grouped sensors. Because grouped sensor detection involves the simultaneous measurement of many sensors, statistical evaluation shows that it can significantly reduce problems encountered with false positive indications. This method has been implemented in an investigation of a method that allows direct detection of S. typhimurium on cantaloupe surfaces. It has been demonstrated that multiple E2 phage based magnetoelastic sensors are able to detect Salmonella directly on fresh cantaloupe surfaces. Confirmation of the spore or bacteria binding to the sensor surfaces was achieved through SEM study of the sensor surfaces.