BioMEMS Sensors for Biomedical Applications (RP009-13AET)

Abstract:
Rapid medical diagnostic system in Malaysia is in need of great attention. The currently available diagnostic tools in local hospitals, takes on the order of days to complete a simple blood test. Despite of the time taken, the tools come in a great deal of expense in costing and maintenance. Meanwhile, the current diagnostic methods are tedious, need high-level expertise and consume considerable amounts of expensive chemicals in sophisticated laboratories that are not available in many hospitals. In addition, the available equipment is often not integrated with intelligent computerized systems. This situation is an obvious drawback to a country where healthcare is listed as one of 12 National Key Economic Area (NKEA) which was established to kick-start the Economic Transformation Plan (ETP).

The solution seems to be enlightened with the technology of Biological Micro-Electro-Mechanical System (BioMEMS), in the development of novel, automated, compact-disc (CD) based platforms designed to perform rapid diagnose system and making molecular theranostics a reality. Using a combination of microfabrication and standard macro-machining processes, microfluicid CD platforms capable of performing ELISA assay will be designed, constructed and tested. The advantages are total analysis time would be reduced from days to minutes and because of the type and amount of materials used, the platforms will be also inexpensive. The system to-be-developed would meets the demands of the healthcare market of rapid diagnostic systems where it has capability to reduce the reagents and blood sample volumes from 100µL to 10µL. The diagnostic time also will be reduced from 3 hours to 30 minutes. This project aims to enhance to fundamental study of CD based microfluidic platform and introduce novel designs and applications for medical diagnostic system for disease.

Overview

Self-explanatory image:

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Figure 1.(a) All the conventional laboratory works are designed in a form of compact disc (CD) (b) The CD only uses small volumes of both reagents and samples (10 µL).

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Figure 2. Developed platforms in the forms of: (a) biochips, (b) microfibers and (c)microspheres for integration into CD microfluidic devices (S. Hosseini et al., 2014)

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Figure 3. Overview of miniaturized wireless powering system for robotic capsule endoscopy: (a) schematic of the application model and (b) schematic of circuit model

Biomedical or Biological Micro-Electro-Mechanical Systems (BioMEMS) have become the focus of research for the last few decades because of their portability, reliability, cost effectiveness, sample/reagent volume reduction, and high-throughput detection compared to the traditional bench-top analytical devices. Currently, most of the laboratory tests and diagnostic tools are expensive, time consuming and they require high volume of analytical reagents. Therefore, our research is focused on employing the microfluidics technology to overcome those limitations. 

Biomedical or Biological Micro-Electro-Mechanical Systems (BioMEMS) have become the focus of research for the last few decades because of their portability, reliability, cost effectiveness, sample/reagent volume reduction, and high-throughput detection compared to the traditional bench-top analytical devices. Therefore, the research members of Centre for Innovation in Medical Engineering (CIME) are focused on development of BioMEMS devices that increase the reliability and portability of the biomedical diagnostic tools. Under the UMRG program based grant-RP009-13AET, we have developed new methods and applications in different fields such as microfluidic platforms, polymeric biochips, tele-health systems, and wireless powering and sensing. Highlighted below are some examples of the accomplished and ongoing projects which have been conducted by the research team of CIME under the support of UMRG grant.

Microfludic Platforms for Medical Diagnostic Systems

Currently, most of the laboratory tests and diagnostic tools are expensive, time consuming and they require high volume of analytical reagents. Therefore, our research is focused on employing the microfluidics technology to overcome those limitations. Figure 1 shows the microfluidic compact disc (CD) device that has the potential to replace the bulky and expensive laboratory instruments. Our team members have successfully implemented the microfluidic CD to conduct the fundamental processes such as liquid pumping, valving, metering, and switching. In a more advanced implementation of the microfluidic CD, enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) for dengue fever detection has been successfully carried out. This implementation can dramatically improve the performance of the ELISA assay to be faster, cheaper, and portable for point of care (POC) applications. In the same way, the microfluidic CD can be employed to improve the performance of different diagnostic methods such as polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and loop mediated isothermal amplification (LAMP).

Novel Polymeric Platform for BioMEMS Diagnostic Applications

In order to commercialize our microfluidic CD as a practical choice for biomedical applications in real life, the compatibility and efficiency of the fabrication materials need to be improved. Therefore, our research team has developed a range of well-designed bio-receptor surfaces with high degree of control over surface properties. Such developed platforms which are aimed for integration into the microfluidic devices, remarkably enhance the detection signal. Figure 2 presents some examples of the developed platforms which can be classified as follows: polymeric biochips (Fig.2a), paper-based detection platforms (Fig.2b) and microspheres (Fig.2c). The developed bio-receptors have enhanced the detection signal for dengue virus detection up to ~6 times, ~10 times and ~15 times higher than conventional ELISA, respectively. Integration of developed platforms into the microfluidic devices reduced the time of incubation from average 2 hours to 5 minutes while the sample volumes were reduced from 200 ml in conventional ELISA to 30 ml in the microfluidic system. These results are promising in order to achieve early detection results.

Miniaturized Wireless Power Transfer System for Implantable Medical Devices

The implementation of BioMEMS based medical devices requires an external power source for their operations, in which internal batteries are typically employed. However, these batteries can increase the overall size of the device and often the battery needs to be replaced after some time. In certain applications, the replacement of the battery requires post-surgery which incurs additional risk and trauma for the patient. Other techniques such as the use of piezoelectric effects, thermal effects or nano-batteries may not provide sufficient energy to the BioMEMS devices. To overcome these limitations, there is a need to investigate other techniques such as miniaturized wireless power transfer as to provide a reliable means of power supply. Conventional approaches of wireless power transfer require the use of bulky coils. We are currently investigating novel techniques of miniaturizing wireless power transfer system (Figure 3) that will not only provide reliable and efficient power for BioMEMS sensors/devices but would also greatly reduce the overall space requirements.

fatimah ibrahimPrinciple Investigator:  Professor Ir. Dr. Fatimah Ibrahim

Department of Biomedical Engineering
Faculty of Engineering
University of Malaya

Tel:  03 7967 6818
Fax: 03 7967 4579
E-mail: fatimah@um.edu.my

Sub-Programme 1 Leader: Prof. Ir. Dr. Fatimah Ibrahim
(Title: Microfludic Platforms for Medical Diagnostic Systems)

Sub-Programme 2 Leader: Associate Prof. Dr. Norhayati Soin
(Title: CMOS MEMS Capacitive Tactile Sensors for Blood Flow Monitoring)

Sub-Programme 3 Leader: Dr. Mas Sahidayana Mokhtar
(Title: The Application of Telehealth-Diagnostic BioMEMS Sensor for Disease Detection and Management)

Sub-Programme 4 Leader: Dr. Mohd Yazed Ahmad
(Title: Miniaturized Wireless Power Transfer (WPT) System for BioMEMS Sensors)

Sub-Programme 5 Leader: Dr. Farina Muhamad
(Title: Novel Polymeric Detection Platform for BioMEMS Diagnostics Application)

Magnetized graphene based photocatalyst and its application for Bisphenol A (BPA) removal in water (RP019-13AET)
 

Overview
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Figure 1: Schematic illustration of the synthesis of TiO2 coated magnetized grapheme

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As a chemical compound exhibiting endocrine disrupting action, bisphenol A (BPA) can be frequently found in aquatic systems.  Due to the high toxic effects, the complete elimination of BPA has been demanded. The objectives of this research are to prepare magnetically active graphene based photocatalysts (MaGPCs) by using of simple and economic synthesis routes and to  investigate the effectiveness of MaGPCs for removing BPA in water.

As a chemical compound exhibiting endocrine disrupting action, bisphenol A (BPA) can be frequently found in aquatic systems.  Due to the high toxic effects, the complete elimination of BPA has been demanded. Photocatalysis is the acceleration of a photoreaction in the presence of a catalyst and is becoming promising in many applications with the utilization of solar energy or sunlight. Performance of a photocatalytic reaction is determined by the quality and property of the photocatalyst, which is usually a semiconductor with ability to create electron-hole pairs under photo-illumination with presence of titanium dioxide and graphene magnetite. The objectives of this research were to prepare magnetically active graphene based photocatalysts (MaGPCs) by use of simple and economic synthesis routes and to estimate the effectiveness of MaGPCs for removing BPA in water.

 

Graphene oxide (GO) was synthesized using the modified Hummer’s method. In this procedure, concentrated sulphuric acid (95%, w/w) and phosphoric acid (85%, w/w) were mixed with graphite powder and added with potassium permanganate as an oxidation agent. Then, hydrogen peroxide (30 %) was added after overnight stirring under room temperature. The mixture was filtered and washed with distilled water until the washed solution reached to pH 7. Finally, the mixture was dried in a vacuum oven to get GO powder. Then, the preparation of magnetized graphene composite was conducted by ultrasound irradiation with ethylene glycol. The dispersed solution was stirred vigorously by adding ferrous chloride and sodium acetate and transferred into autoclave Teflon bottle and placed in the oven at 200°C for 6 h. Finally, the solids were washed and dried in a vacuum oven to obtain graphene magnetite (G/Fe3O4).  Incorporation of SiO2 was carried out by adding sodium silicate (Na2SiO3) into G/Fe3O4.  After sonication, the mixture was dried and calcinate under 450ºC for 30 min to obtain G/Fe3O4/SiO2.  The media then followed by TiO2 coating by adding ethanol and titanium butoxide (TBT) solution and transferred to autoclave Teflon bottle. The media then heated to 150ºC, washed with distilled water and dried in vacuum oven. Finally, the media was calcined at 400 ºC for 2 h. The illustration below shows the synthesis of TiO2 coated magnetized graphene (G/Fe3O4/SiO2/TiO2).  

The synthesized G/Fe3O4/SiO2/TiO2 was carefully characterized by X-ray diffraction (XRD), transmission electron microscopy (TEM) and field-emission scanning electron microscopy (FESEM). Figure 2 shows the XRD patterns of the (a) GO and (b) G/Fe3O4 respectively. The curve of GO shows a dominated diffraction peak at around 10.8° of 2θ corresponding to the (002) reflection. The sample of G/Fe3O4 shows the diffraction peaks at 30.2, 35.5, 43.3, 53.9, 57.1 and 62.5° of 2θ, respectively. Based on the graph, GO was reduced to graphene and magnetite was attached to oxygen.

TEM photograph of the GO nanosheets are shown in Figure 3, the sheet-like structured GO shows its gauziness surface, large area and wave-like wrinkle. The TEM images and FESEM images of G/Fe3O4 composite are shown in Figure 4 (a) and (b), respectively. It can be clearly seen that the crumpled silk waves-like carbon sheets of the graphene and nano-sized magnetite (average, 0.25 µm) was coated heterogeneously on the surface of graphene. Due to the smaller layer of graphene, the magnetite coated on the back side could be seen from the FESEM images.

We also investigated the degradation of BPA (20 mg L-1) by sunlight using G/Fe3O4/SiO2/TiO2 and compared with widely used photocatalyst (TiO2), P25. Photodegradation of BPA in aqueous solution was carried out under the sunlight for 1 h. As a result, the photocatalytic removal speed of G/Fe3O4/SiO2/TiO2 nanocomposite for BPA degradation was higher than that of P25. Through fitting with first-order kinetic model, we found that G/Fe3O4/SiO2/TiO2 nanocomposite had a kinetic rate constant (0.0123 min-1) which is 1.6 times greater than P25 (0.0077 min-1). 

The synthesis of G/Fe3O4/SiO2/TiO2 based photocatalyst was successfully synthesized and has been carried out for photocatalytic process using sun light to remove BPA in water. The synthesized media, G/Fe3O4/SiO2/TiO2 had much higher oxidation capability than widely applicable catalyst.  Due to its high magnetic property, this media can be also easily separable by simple magnetic separation and repeatedly reuse can be possible for actual application of BPA removal. Further study on the parameters such as catalyst dosage, concentration of BPA solution, pH, temperature, the mechanism of photodegradation, and regeneration ability of the media will be carried out.   

Principle Investigator

Contact details

Professor Dr. Shaliza Ibrahim
Department of Civil Engineering
Faculty of Engineering
University of Malaya

Tel:  03 7967 4458
E-mail: shaliza@um.edu.my

Development of Sustainable Energy Source for Remote and Rural Communities (RP015-13AET)

Abstract:

Electricity is one of the important ingredients for industrial and socio-economic development of a country or region. There is evidence in most parts of the world, that areas without electricity are far less developed than those with electricity. In household electricity has an impact on living standards, health education etc. In terms of access to electricity, rural communities are the most affected due to several reasons, which include priorities where there is insufficient supply and being economically not viable when electric supply is to be implemented in a traditional way of extending the existing grid. The scenario can be changed if attention is given to a possibility of electrifying rural areas utilizing locally available energy sources for electricity generation, of which small and micro hydropower plant being one of them.

The aim of this project is to design a prototype of micro hydro power plant using induction generator (IG) to provide a sustainable source of electricity for rural communities. In order to select the parameters of the prototype an estimation of the potential hydro resources will be conducted followed by modeling and simulation of induction generator (IG), once the final design is selected a prototype will be manufactures and tested.

For stand-alone low power systems based on micro-hydro, the induction generator (IG) is the most suitable, due to the following advantages over the synchronous one: price, robustness, simpler starting and control. On the other hand, this mode of operation is dependable on the prime mover speed, capacitor and load. Thus, proper regulators for both voltage and frequency must be employed. This results in the installations of low cost micro hydro power plants and necessary demands for power in rural areas will be met up.

Overview

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Picture 1: Micro Hydro Overall System 

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Picture 2: Micro hydro in action, team from PEARL and JPPHB checking the functionality of the system 

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Picture 3: Testing the micro hydro 

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Picture 4: The roof top PV system 

The Ulu Gombak PV + micro hydro project can provide an alternative in electrifying rural areas of Malaysia, and furthermore through its support to livelihoods of local people, it can have an effect in reducing poverty. The Ulu Gomback micro hydro of 3kw combined with 2 kWp PV system have been developed by the Power Electronics and Renewable Energy Research Laboratory (PEARL) Department of Electrical Engineering, University of Malaya in collaboration with JPPHB of University of Malaya. The micro hydro system provides power to the lab facilities (biology science Lab) and also the Orang Asli community around the area.

saad mekhilefPrinciple Investigator:

Professor Dr. Saad Mekhilef
Power Electronics and Renewable Energy Research Laboratory (PEARL)
Department of Electrical Engineering
Faculty of Engineering
University of Malaya

Tel:  03 7967 6851
Fax: 03 7967 5316
E-mail: saad@um.edu.my 

Sub-Program 1 Leader:  Professor Dr. Saad Mekhilef
(Title: Autonomous Variable Speed Micro Hydro Power Plant with Induction Generator)

Sub-Program 2 Leader: Associate Prof. Dr. Saidur Rahman Abd Hakim
(Title: Nanoparticles Enhanced Ionic Liquid as Heat Transfer Fluid for Next Generation Solar Collector)

Sub-Program 3 Leader: Associate Prof. Dr. Chong Wen Tong
(Title: The Design and Testing of An Outdoor Lighting System Powered by Shrouded Vertical-axis-wind-turbine and Solar PV Panel)

Sub-Program 4 Leader: Prof. Dr. Girish Kumar Singh
(Title: Design and Analysis of Self-Excited Six-Phase Induction Generator for Stand-Alone Renewable Energy Generation Powered by Hydro Turbine

Towards an Enhanced Usersโ€™ Online Search Experience (RP028-14AET)

Abstract:
User experience involves a person’s behaviors, attitudes and emotions about using a particular product, system or service. It includes the practical, experiential, affective, meaningful and valuable aspects of human-computer interaction and product ownership. With the advent of the Internet, users are able to search for any products, items or information at any time. However, the Internet is overloaded with information, both relevant and irrelevant hence making a search process to be a tedious task. Studies intending to improve users’ search experience resulted in the birth of information retrieval and recommender systems. Information retrieval focuses on getting or providing users with easy access to the information they need, whereas recommender systems recommend product/items/information that a user will find most valuable. Information retrieval techniques such as relevance feedback (i.e. implicit, explicit and hybrid) may improve users’ search experience. For example, users on Amazon.com can rate a book using a five-star scale indicating the relevancy of the item. Such feedback can be used to enhance users’ experience by either retrieving the relevant items or by recommending the items to similar searches or users. Although various techniques have been proposed in the literature, there is a need to improve users’ experience as information on the Internet is growing exponentially. Sub-programs 1 – 4 are particularly focused in improving users’ online search experience in recommender systems. Credibility refers to the objective and subjective parts of the believability of the content. The Internet is open for everyone to use, hence any content can be published online easily by any author without being concerned about authorities restricting them from doing so. Therefore, it is important to investigate how information credibility can be determined, as proposed by sub-program-5.

vimalaProgram Leader & Sub-Program 1 Leader : Dr. Vimala A/P Balakrishnan

(Title: Integrating Adaptive Mechanisms to Improve User Recommendations)


Sub-Program 2 Leader : Assoc. Prof. Dr. Maizatul Akmar Ismail 
(Title: Context Aware Recommender System for Novice Researchers)

Sub-Program 3 Leader : Assoc. Prof. Dr. Teh Ying Wah
(Title: Toward Dynamic Web Personalization using Big Web Data Mining)

Sub-Program 4 Leader : Dr. Kasturi Dewi A/P Varathan
(Title: Emotion Mining in Facebook)

Sub-Program 5 Leader : Dr. Sri Devi A/P Ravana
(Title: Measuring Credibility of Web Documents for Credibility-inspired Ranking of Document Retrieval)

Sub-Program 6 Leader : Dr. Nor Liyana Mohd Shuib
(Title: Collaborative Recommender System based on User’s Emotions, Personalization and Context Aware Information for Mobile Environment)

Intelligent Computer Based Forensic Assistance (RP026-14AET)

Abstract:
The field of forensics is one dominated by the field related experts. While this is not an issue when a high profile case involved, it becomes a problem when such expertise is unavailable for small, lower profile cases arise. The judgements of these experts are also open to a great deal of subjectivity and therefore is time consuming and expensive. The National Academy of Sciences formed its committee to assess the state of forensic science back in 2006, at the request of Congress. The report acknowledges that advance in some forensic methods have helped law enforcement officials identify perpetrators in many crimes that would have previously gone unsolved.

By combining the tools available in computer science and artificial intelligence in particular with the expert knowledge available in forensics and pathology, it is possible to fulfill many of the areas in which forensic investigations are lacking namely speed of analysis and objectivity. It also promises to be much lower cost alternatives as the tools created should be available to a wide variety of users, from law enforcement to the medical field.

The benefits as stated above are: greater knowledge access as the forensic repository will encompass a great number of cases from which patterns can be evaluated and future potential solutions can be gauged; greater speed of resolution of cases, as the need for an onsite expert can be reduced and in some cases eliminated entirely due to the proposed system’s ability to provide investigators with the required evaluations and solutions.

The competitions for the proposed system are those basic forensic assistive systems such as the digital autopsy system by InfoValley (http://www.infovalley.net.my/). However the difference here is that we are proposing a unified system that assists at all levels of the investigation including on site, where crime scene photographs will be used as the data for the system. The possibilities are promising.

ram gopalProgram Leader & Sub-Program 1 Leader : Dr. Ram Gopal Raj

(Title: Automated Generation of Forensic Autopsy Reports based on Machine Learning and Reasoning)


Sub-Program 2 Leader : Prof. Datin Dr. Sameem Abdul Kareem
(Title: Using Bioinformatics t Improve the Accuracy and Speed of Cod Identification in Ambiguous Cases)

Sub-Program 3 Leader : Dr. Roshan Gunalan
(Title: Improving Automated Bone Age Assessment using Content based MRI Image Retrieval)

Last Update: May 17, 2017