A UAV-Mounted Whole Cell Biosensor System for Environmental Monitoring Applications

Yi Lu, Dominique Macias, Zachary S. Dean, Nicole R. Kreger, Pak Kin Wong

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

44 Scopus citations


This study reports the development of a portable whole cell biosensor system for environmental monitoring applications, such as air quality control, water pollution monitoring, and radiation leakage detection. The system consists of a lightweight mechanical housing, a temperature regulating system, and a microfluidic bacterial inoculation channel. The overall system, which is less than 200 g, serves as a portable incubator for cell inoculation and can be mounted on an unmanned aerial vehicle for monitoring remote and unreachable locations. The feedback control system maintains the inoculation temperature within 0.05 °C. The large surface-to-volume ratio of the polydimethylsiloxane microchannel facilitates effective gas exchange for rapid bacterial growth. Molecular dynamic simulation shows effective diffusion of major gas pollutants in PDMS toward gas sensing applications. By optimizing the design, we demonstrate the operation of the system in ambient temperatures from 5 °C to 32 °C and rapid bacterial growth in microchannels compared to standard bacterial culture techniques.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number7328305
Pages (from-to)811-817
Number of pages7
JournalIEEE Transactions on Nanobioscience
Issue number8
StatePublished - Dec 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biotechnology
  • Bioengineering
  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Pharmaceutical Science
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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