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Award Detail

Doing Business As Name:University of Tennessee Knoxville
  • Michael J Sepaniak
  • (865) 974-3141
Award Date:09/11/2012
Estimated Total Award Amount: $ 400,000
Funds Obligated to Date: $ 400,000
  • FY 2012=$400,000
Start Date:09/15/2012
End Date:08/31/2017
Transaction Type:Grant
Awarding Agency Code:4900
Funding Agency Code:4900
CFDA Number:47.049
Primary Program Source:040100 NSF RESEARCH & RELATED ACTIVIT
Award Title or Description:High aspect ratio, densely populated, pillar arrays for separations
Federal Award ID Number:1144947
DUNS ID:003387891
Parent DUNS ID:003387891
Program:Chemical Measurement & Imaging
Program Officer:
  • Lin He
  • (703) 292-4956

Awardee Location

Street:1331 CIR PARK DR
Awardee Cong. District:02

Primary Place of Performance

Organization Name:University Of Tennessee
Cong. District:02

Abstract at Time of Award

With support from the Chemical Measurement and Imaging Program in the Division of Chemistry, Professor Michael Sepaniak at University of Tennessee, Knoxville and his group will tackle the challenges of creating pillar arrays for chemical separations (PACS) that function as miniaturized liquid phase separation systems. An original processing sequence for the fabrication of high aspect ratio pillars yields mechanically robust systems. Importantly, the characteristic morphologies in the implemented highly ordered pillar arrays are scalable to nanometer dimensions. Thus the fluidic structures, operated in enclosed pressure-driven or open capillary action-driven modes, offer the potential for substantial improvements in separation efficiency and permeability over traditional packed and monolithic columns, as well as traditional thin layer chromatography plates. Porosity and nanoscale morphology in conventional separation systems is generally random and, therefore, morphological heterogeneity and related mass transfer issues play a significant role in band broadening. Conversely, PACS provides an alternative approach to separation media with precisely controlled nano- and micro-scale architectures. New insights into the retention mechanisms in nanoscale fluidic systems are expected. Moreover, advanced lithographic techniques will be used to create for the first time uniform pillar structures suitable for high performance open format, 2-D spatial separations. In addition to the scientific objectives of this proposal, an underpinning goal is to introduce young researchers to cross-disciplinary science and technology ranging from microfabrication and nanotechnology, studies of surface properties, and the development of new instrumental approaches to separations, fluidics, and ultra low volume detection/imaging. Efforts to recruit minorities and disseminate research results will be leveraged by prior experience with programs such as our prior NSF programs and Sepaniak's collaboration with the University of Puerto Rico. Finally, an outreach educational component is included that involves summer research experiences for visitors which emphasizes bringing area high school teacher-student combinations to the UT campus.

Publications Produced as a Result of this Research

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M. Kandziolka , J.J. Charlton , I.I. Kravchenko, J.A. Bradshaw , I.A. Merkulov, M.J. Sepaniak, and N.V. Lavrik, "Silicon nanopillars as a platform for enhanced fluorescence analysis" Analytical Chemistry, v.85, 2013, p.9031.

R. A. Wallace, N. V. Lavrik, and M. J. Sepaniak "Ultra-thin layer chromatography with integrated silver colloid-based SERS detection" Electrophoresis, v.38, 2016, p.361.

N.A. Crane, N.V. Lavrik, and M.J Sepaniak "Manipulating inter pillar gap in pillar arrays separation ultra-thin layer chromatography platforms" Analyst, v.141, 2016, p.1239.

T. B. Kirchner, J. J. Charlton, N. A. Hatab, R. Stricthouser I. I. Kravchenko, N. V. Lavrik, and M.J. Sepaniak "Nanoscale pillar arrays for separations" Analyst, v.140, 2015, p.3347.

J. J. Charlton, N.C. Jones, R.A. Wallace, R. Smithwick, J. A. Bradshaw, I.I. Kravchenko, N.V. Lavrik, and M.J. Sepaniak "Nanopillar based enhanced fluorescence detection of surface immobilized beryllium" Analytical Chemistry, v.87, 2015, p.6821.

T.B. Kirchner, N.V. Lavrik, and M.J. Sepaniak "Photolithographic Development of Highly-Ordered Silicon Pillar Arrays for use in Chromatographic Separations" Analytical Chemistry, v.85, 2013, p.11802.

D.R. Lincoln, N.V. Lavrik, and M.J. Sepaniak "Retention in porous layer pillar array planar separation platforms" Analytical Chemistry, v.88, 2016, p.8741.

R. A. Wallace, N. V. Lavrik, and M. J. Sepaniak, "Superhydrophobic analyte concentration utilizing colloid-pillar array SERS substrates" Analytical Chemistry, v.86, 2014, p.11819.

J.J Charlton, N.V. Lavrik, J.A. Bradshaw, and M.J. Sepaniak, ?? "Wicking nanopillar arrays with dual roughness for selective transport and fluorescence measurements" J. Appl. Materials and Interfaces, v.6, 2014, p.17894.

C.E. Freye, N.A. Crane, T.B. Kirchner, and M.J. Sepaniak "SERS Imaging of Developed TLC Plates" Analytical Chemistry, v.85, 2013, p.3991.

C.E. Freye, N.A. Crane, T.B. Kirchner, and M.J. Sepaniak "? SERS Imaging of Developed TLC Plates?" Analytical Chemistry, v.85, 2013, p.3991-3998. doi:10.1021/ac30371 

Project Outcomes Report


This Project Outcomes Report for the General Public is displayed verbatim as submitted by the Principal Investigator (PI) for this award. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this Report are those of the PI and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation; NSF has not approved or endorsed its content.

Researchers at the University of Tennessee were funded by National Science Foundation under grant CHE 1144947 to fabricate and test true nanoscale planar chromatography platforms using wafer level processing techniques, with the assistance of Oak Ridge National Laboratory collaborators.  The processing involves state of the art lithographic, reactive ion etching, and surface modification techniques to create dense pillar arrays with nanoscale features and tailored surfaces for chromatographic separations.   The very small footprint of the 2-dimensional planar platforms, miniscule required amounts of sample and solvent, and a chromatographic process that relies on simple capillary action or an unique centrifugal force component for solvent flow should render this technology valuable for point of care diagnostics in clinical settings and in-field separations and analysis for environmental and homeland security applications.

The National Science Foundation support has allowed the Sepaniak group to pursue the development of original processing sequences for the fabrication of deterministic (using lithographic techniques) and stochastic (using metal dewetting protocols) high aspect ratio pillar arrays on the micro-to-nano scale.  Initially, the platforms were used for chemical separations as enclosed systems with pressure-based solvent flow.   To simplify implementation and facilitate portability the fluidic structures were subsequently used as open planar systems operated in a very simple capillary action and centrifugal force driven modes and have been demonstrated to possess potential for substantial improvements in separation efficiency (hence permitting difficult separations) and permeability (hence fast separations) over the thin layer chromatography plates traditionally used in planar chromatographic analysis.  This occurs due the uniformity of tunable small features on our platforms that are not possible in traditional approaches.  New fundamental insights into the chemical separation mechanisms involving mass transport, phase distribution, and band dispersion in nanoscale fluidic systems were gleaned.  The impact of this down-size scaling has been evaluated in terms of chromatographic performance and practical applications in the environmental and clinical areas have been demonstrated.

In composite, these studies provide fundamental knowledge and technological advances to develop novel classes of micro- and nano-featured systems for analytical separations.  The training of students included six Ph.D. Dissertations supported by the grant.   A total of 12 peer reviewed publications and 22 presentations at regional and national scientific meetings were products of this effort and acknowledged the support of National Science Foundation.  In addition, our efforts have included an outreach educational component that involved summer research experiences for several visiting STEM high school students and their teacher.   The visitors conducted research that paralleled efforts at the university, attended seminars, and submitted a manuscript representing their findings. 

Last Modified: 07/23/2017
Modified by: Michael J Sepaniak

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