Monday, April 18, 2016

NanoEngineering meets chemical engineering meets electrical engineering for one grad student

Lindsay Freeman at Research Expo on Thursday, April 14, 2016
NanoEngineering meets chemical engineering meets electrical engineering for Lindsay Freeman, a graduate student at the University of California San Diego’s Jacobs School of Engineering. Freeman is getting a Ph.D. in chemical engineering, her home department is NanoEngineering, and she is doing her research in an electrical engineering lab.

Freeman presented a poster on the fusion between optical physics and chemistry at Research Expo on Thursday, April 14 (see abstract below and see all poster abstracts here).

“The nucleic acids in DNA strands functionalized to silver have been shown to have fluorescent properties, similar to a fluoroflore,” said Freeman. “This is due to the charge transfer effect; energy is given off as light when the electrons move between the orbitals of the atoms of the nucleic acids and those of silver. We want to understand why this works. It began as trying to understand nucleic acid-silver composites, but turned into, ‘Can we use this as a way to figure out how molecules bind to a surface?’”

Freeman, from South Carolina, knew she wanted to be an engineer. As a child, she loved to build computers, and pursued computer engineering as a result. However, she shifted away from it when she realized she really liked chemistry.

“My passion is in bio-detection,” said Freeman. “I like the fusion between electrical and chemical engineering – the interdisciplinary effect of looking at biosensors. There are two components: sensors are easily understood by science, but biology is difficult. I find this field to be challenging.”

Freeman says she chose UC San Diego because the school is dedicated to both engineering and medicine, and San Diego is a well-known hub for biotech. “I looked at the facilities offered, the collaboration opportunities.”

Freeman plans to complete a postdoc at UC San Diego before pursuing other job opportunities in the area.

Regarding Research Expo, Freeman says, “My goal is to get better communicating science. In addition to networking with industry professionals, I also love interacting with other students. We publish all this great research, and this is the one time we get to see all of our fellow graduate students in one place.”

See the best poster award winners here.

Want to meet more than 200 graduate students doing innovative engineering research, like Freeman? Don’t miss Research Expo in 2017!


Department: Electrical & Computer Engineering
Research Institute Affiliation: Graduate Program in Chemical Engineering
Faculty Advisor(s): Y. Shaya Fainman
Plasmonic devices are of great interest due to their ability to confine light to the nanoscale level and dramatically increase the intensity of the electromagnetic field, functioning as high performance platforms for Raman signal enhancement. While Raman spectroscopy has been proposed as a tool to identify the preferential binding sites and adsorption configurations of molecules to nanoparticles, the results have been limited by the assumption that a single binding site is responsible for molecular adsorption. Here, we develop the simulated Raman correlation spectroscopy (SRCS) process to determine which binding sites of a molecule preferentially bind to a plasmonic material and in what capacity. We apply the method to the case of nucleic acids binding to silver, discovering that multiple atoms are responsible for adsorption kinetics. This method can be applied to future systems, such as to study the molecular orientation of adsorbates to films or protein conformation upon adsorption.
Industry Application Area(s)
Electronics/Photonics | Materials | Biosensing

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