Wan Y. Shih – Drexel University

Dr. Wan Y. Shih’s current research interest is in developing nano, micro, meso as well as macro devices for biological sensing and imaging. In particular, she is interested in the development of highly piezoelectric nano- and micro-cantilever sensors for portable, real-time, label-free, and multiplexed detections of protein/DNA biomarkers, cells, viruses, and bacteria in biological fluids such as serum and urine for disease diagnosis.  She has also worked on the development of piezoelectric tissue elastic modulus and shear modulus sensors as well as the development of non-toxic fluorescent nanoparticles for in vivo cancer imaging. 


Piezoelectric NanoCantilever Sensor:  The core group is developing piezoelectric nanocantilever sensors to detect serum cancer markers as well as patients’ immune response from treatment.  The piezoelectric nanocantilever consists of a unique piezoelectric, lead magnesium niobate-lead titanate (PMN-PT) thin layer made without a substrate that provides enhanced piezoelectric performance. Due to the highly piezoelectric nature of the sensor, the detection signal is enhanced by more than three orders of magnitude than mass sensing. As a result, the sensor can detect protein markers and antibodies at a concentration 100 times lower than the current standard, ELISA.  Such sensitivity enables the oncologist to detect patients’ immune responses and biomarkers at levels not detectable by ELISA. 

For more information on Dr. Shih’s research, please go to: http://ceramicslab.materials.drexel.edu/index.htm.

Why Is Small So Big?

Nanotechnology deals with products and processes that are measured in almost unbelievably small increments called “nanometers”—one billionth of a meter.

At the nanoscale, materials differ from larger objects in their physical, chemical and biological properties; therefore, they lend themselves to new and improved materials, systems and devices. Nanotechnology is behind the development of such diverse advancements as:

  1. Drug Delivery
  2. Biofiltration and Separation sciences
  3. Improved coatings for medical devices

Thanks to rapid advances in this exciting new field, we now have the tools and talents to manipulate materials on the molecular scale—a technology literally changing the world as we know it.