Gang Wang, Post-doctoral student
“We have done lots of work, and have good progress with the quick response of our biosensor.”
While the threat of a potentially deadly chemical, gas or microbe being used by terrorists in the U.S. has increased after 9/11, scientists at UMass Lowell are strengthening the government’s counter-terrorism capabilities by developing biosensors that can be used to detect a variety of bioterrorist agents.
Post-doctoral student Gang Wang, working in Prof. Susan J. Braunhut’s Biology laboratory, is testing one of the University’s in-house biosensors, Nanocanary. Named after the 1800’s early-warning system in which coal miners carried around canaries in a small wooden box to alert them of dangerous methane or carbon monoxide build-up, Nanocanary is a modern safety device the military can use for the detection of airborne chemical and poisonous gas.
Wang says that after introducing various doses of different kinds of toxins or nanomaterials to living human cells used as sensing elements, Nanocanary is responding with an impressive, high-level of sensitivity and speed, usually in less than one minute.
“We have done lots of work, and have good progress with the quick response of our biosensor,” says Wang. “Because there are so many cells and we need to mimic the human body, and so many toxicities, nanomaterials, we still have a ways to go. But we need to do these other things to help society.”
UMass Lowell’s Nanomanufacturing Biosensor Program has been funded for the last four years by the U.S. Army Research Laboratory. Excited by the performance of the University’s biosensors, the Army recently awarded UMass Lowell an additional $4 million dollars to continue this research.