Analytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry

, Volume 408, Issue 5, pp 1327–1334 | Cite as

Functionalized electrospun poly(vinyl alcohol) nanofibers for on-chip concentration of E. coli cells

  • Lauren Matlock-Colangelo
  • Barbara Coon
  • Christine L. Pitner
  • Margaret W. Frey
  • Antje J. Baeumner
Research Paper
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Fiber-based Platforms for Bioanalytics


Positively and negatively charged electrospun poly(vinyl alcohol) (PVA) nanofibers were incorporated into poly(methyl methacrylate) (PMMA) microchannels in order to facilitate on-chip concentration of Escherichia coli K12 cells. The effects of fiber distribution and fiber mat height on analyte retention were investigated. The 3D morphology of the mats was optimized to prevent size-related retention of the E. coli cells while also providing a large enough surface area for analyte concentration. Positively charged nanofibers produced an 87 % retention and over 80-fold concentration of the bacterial cells by mere electrostatic interaction, while negatively charged nanofibers reduced nonspecific analyte retention when compared to an empty microfluidic channel. In order to take advantage of this reduction in nonspecific retention, these negatively charged nanofibers were then modified with anti-E. coli antibodies. These proof-of-principle experiments showed that antibody-functionalized negatively charged nanofiber mats were capable of the specific capture of 72 % of the E. coli cells while also significantly reducing nonspecific analyte retention within the channel as expected. The ease of fabrication and immense surface area of the functionalized electrospun nanofibers make them a promising alternative for on-chip concentration of analytes. The pore size and fiber mat morphology, as well as surface functionality of the fibers, can be tailored to allow for specific capture and concentration of a wide range of analytes.

Graphical abstract

A schematic of the E. coli retention experiments performed in this work. (A) Negatively charged E. coli cells are captured and concentrated on positively charged nanofibers. (B) The negatively charged E. coli cells are repelled by negatively charged nanofibers, preventing nonspecific analyte retention in microfluidic channels. (C) Anti-E. coli antibodies immobilized on negatively charged nanofibers selectively capture the E. coli cells while also providing a reduction in nonspecific analyte retention.


Electrospun nanofibers Sample preparation Microfluidics Lab-on-a-chip 



The authors are grateful for the partial support provided by the National Science Foundation (NSF) under grant no. CBET-0852900. Also, this work was performed in part at the Cornell NanoScale Facility, a member of the National Nanotechnology Infrastructure Network, which is supported by the National Science Foundation (Grant ECCS-0335765). Finally, the authors also acknowledge partial funding through the Multistate Federal Formula Grant “Development of a novel rapid-on-site biosensor for food safety” Project #2012-13-132.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no competing interests.

Supplementary material

216_2015_9112_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (495 kb)
ESM 1 (PDF 495 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lauren Matlock-Colangelo
    • 1
  • Barbara Coon
    • 1
  • Christine L. Pitner
    • 1
  • Margaret W. Frey
    • 2
  • Antje J. Baeumner
    • 1
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Biological and Environmental EngineeringCornell UniversityIthacaUSA
  2. 2.Department of Fiber Science and Apparel DesignCornell UniversityIthacaUSA
  3. 3.Institute for Analytical Chemistry, Chemo- and BiosensorsUniversity of RegensburgRegensburgGermany

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