Graduation Year

2015

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree

Ph.D.

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

Department

Physics

Degree Granting Department

Physics

Major Professor

Manh-Huong Phan, Ph.D.

Co-Major Professor

Hariharan Srikanth, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Pritish Mukherjee, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Subhra Mohapatra, Ph.D.

Committee Member

William G. Matthews, Ph.D.

Keywords

Biosensor, Microwave-sensing, Microwires, Nanoparticles, Ribbons

Abstract

A combination of magnetic sensors with magnetic nanoparticles offers a promising approach for highly sensitive, simple, and rapid detection of cancer cells and biomolecules. The challenge facing the field of magnetic biosensing is the development of low-cost devices capable of superconducting quantum interference device (SQUID)-like field sensitivity at room temperature. In another area of interest, improving the sensitivity of existing electromagnetic field sensors for microwave energy sensing applications is an important and challenging task. In this dissertation, we have explored the excellent magnetoimpedance and microwave absorption responses of soft ferromagnetic amorphous ribbons and microwires for the development of high-performance magnetic biodetectors and microwave energy sensors.

We have developed the effective approaches to improve the magnetoimpedance response of Co65Fe4Ni2Si15B14 amorphous ribbons by tuning their dimension and/or coating them with thin layers of CoFe2O4. Coating amorphous and crystalline CoFe2O4 films on the ribbon surface have opposite impacts on the magnetoimpedance response. Pulsed laser deposition (PLD) is shown to be a novel in-situ annealing and coating method for improving the magnetoimpedance response of the soft ferromagnetic amorphous ribbons for advanced sensor applications. The magnetoimpedance responses are also enhanced in multi-microwire systems relative to their single microwires. We have introduced a new method of combining the magnetoresistance (MR), magnetoreactance (MX), and magnetoimpedance (MI) effects of a soft ferromagnetic amorphous ribbon to develop an integrated biosensor with enhanced sensitivity and tunable frequency. While existing MI biosensors have limited sensitivities, we show that by exploiting the MR and MX effects it is possible to improve the sensitivity of the biosensor by up to 50% and 100%, respectively. The MX-based approach shows the most sensitive detection of superparamagnetic (Fe3O4) nanoparticles at low concentrations, demonstrating a sensitivity level comparable to that of a SQUID-based biosensor. Unlike a SQUID, however, the proposed MX technique is cryogen-free and operates at room temperature, providing a promising avenue to the development of low-cost highly sensitive biosensors. We have further improved the detection sensitivity of the MI and MX biosensors by patterning the sensing (ribbon) surface with nano/micro-sized holes, using the etching or focused ion beam (FIB) technique. These biosensors have been successfully employed to detect and quantify various bioanalytes, such as Curcumin-type anticancer drugs, bovine serum albumen (BSA) proteins, and Lewis lung carcinoma (LLC) cancer cells that have taken up the surface-functionalized Fe3O4 nanoparticles. Since Fe3O4 nanoparticles are widely used as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) contrast agents, our biosensing technique can also be used as a new, low-cost, fast and easy pre-detection method before MRI. Finally, we have developed a new method of using a soft ferromagnetic glass-coated amorphous microwire as a microwave absorber for fabrication of a fiber Bragg grating-based microwave energy sensor with improved sensitivity and less perturbation of the microwave field. As compared to a similar approach that uses gold to absorb electromagnetic radiation, the microwire yields a device with greater sensitivity (~10 times at f = 3.25 GHz) relative to the perturbation of the microwave field. A correlation between the magnetic softness and microwave absorption in the microwires has been established, paving the way to improve the performance of the microwave energy sensor by tailoring their soft magnetic properties.

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