Droplet-based immunoassay on a 'sticky' nanofibrous surface for multiplexed and dual detection of bacteria using smartphones

Ariana M. Nicolini, Christopher F. Fronczek, Jeong Yeol Yoon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

56 Scopus citations


We have developed a rapid, sensitive, and specific droplet-based immunoassay for the detection of Escherichia coli and Salmonella within a single-pipetted sample. Polycaprolactone (PCL) electrospun fibers on indium-tin-oxide (ITO) glass provide a sufficient surface to render a non-slip droplet condition, and while the PCL fibers lend a local hydrophilicity (contact angle θ=74°) for sufficient sub-micron particle adhesion, air pockets within the fibers lend an apparent hydrophobicity. Overall, the contact angle of water on this electrospun surface is 119°, and the air pockets cause the droplet to be completely immobile and resistant to movement, protecting it from external vibration. By using both anti-E. coli conjugated, 510nm diameter green fluorescent particles (480nm excitation and 520nm emission) and anti-Salmonella conjugated, 400nm diameter red fluorescent particles (640nm excitation and 690nm emission), we can detect multiple targets in a single droplet. Using appropriate light sources guided by fiber optics, we determined a detection limit of 102CFUmL-1. Immunoagglutination can be observed under a fluorescence microscope. Fluorescence detection (at the emission wavelength) of immunoagglutination was maximum at 90° from the incident light, while light scattering (at the excitation wavelength) was still present and behaved similarly, indicating the ability of double detection, greatly improving credibility and reproducibility of the assay. A power function (light intensity) simulation of elastic Mie scatter confirmed that both fluorescence and light scattering were present. Due to the size of the fluorescent particles relative to their incident excitation wavelengths, Mie scatter conditions were observed, and fluorescence signals show a similar trend to light scattering signals. Smartphone detection was included for true portable detection, in which the high contact angle pinning of the droplet makes this format re-usable and re-configurable.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)560-569
Number of pages10
JournalBiosensors and Bioelectronics
StatePublished - May 5 2015


  • Droplet
  • Electrospinning
  • Fluorescence
  • Immunoagglutination
  • Light scatter
  • Smartphone

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Biophysics
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Electrochemistry


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