The department’s strengths in sensor research has led to the establishment of a campus-wide Center for Advanced Sensor Technology (CAST).
Sensors are ubiquitous devices that detect or measure some desired target analyte. Typically, a sensor has a front-end system that responds to the analyte with a measurable property change, which is then converted into a voltage or current signal by a transducer which can be acquired and displayed on an instrument or computer.
CBE and faculty from other departments with an interest in sensor technology are affiliated with CAST. CAST faculty are engaged in basic and applied research in various aspects of sensors and instrumentation. Bioprocess sensors for optical monitoring of oxygen, pH and pCO2 have been developed at CAST that have been successfully commercialized (www.fluorometrix.com). These optical sensors have led to a new class of miniature bioreactors useful for rapid bioprocess optimization. In other research, sensors based on various bacterial binding proteins are being developed. Next-generation sensors are being developed that are based on surface plasmon coupled emission and these promise unprecedented increase in sensitivity at low cost.