Xuanhong Cheng received a $50K NSF Innovation Corps (I-Corps) grant for the commercialization of a nanoparticle concentration device. Cheng’s motivation to create it stems from the well-recognized challenge of preparing bionanoparticle samples at resource-limited settings.
Bionanoparticles, such as viruses, liposomes, and exosomes, are frequently processed for clinical diagnostics, surveillance of biological weapons and pandemic pathogens, drug and food safety, and for the manufacture of medicines. However, they usually are present only in very dilute suspensions. While the conventional methods (such as high-speed centrifugation and membrane ultrafiltration) are effective for concentrating biological nanoparticles, these batch processes often have variable recovery — dependent on the sample composition, operators’ skills, and the separation mechanism.
The proposed microdevice addresses all these challenges and more, through continuous concentration of bionanoparticles in a portable device.
I-Corps is a set of activities that prepare scientists to extend their focus beyond their labs and broadens the impact of select basic-research projects.