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Mentored Engineering Research

Biooptofluidics: Liquid-Filled Optical Waveguides for On-Chip Chemical Analysis

Dr. Aaron Hawkins

Optofluidics is one of the most exciting new areas in the optics field. Our research concentrates on optofluidic waveguides which can confine light in very low refractive index materials like water. Using these structures, we are able to probe fluids containing biologic particles such as viruses and DNA strands. We collaborate with chemists and biologists at BYU, academic research groups at other universities, and commercial companies. We are currently working on rapid tests for virus infections like Ebola and Zika and bacterial infections like the very dangerous drug-resistant bacteria strains which are becoming a bigger and bigger health risk. Our end goal is the development of a portable instrument which can provide test results in less than one hour for many different virus and bacteria strains.
Our group concentrates on the microfabrication of sensor chips used for bioparticle detection. This work is carried out in the BYU cleanroom using silicon wafers. The image on the left below show some of the sophisticated waveguides and microchannels we have built on the microscale. A completed sensor chip is shown on the right.