Exploring Limits to the Achievable Density of Electrochemical Sensors

We explore fundamental and practical limits to technology for biomolecular detection. Current research in the group focuses on the question: How close together can two electrochemical biosensors be and still report accurate results?

This is an experimental group, but projects in spring 2022 will focus on simulations and modeling. Students will have the opportunity to work on one or both of the following projects:

Project 1: Advancing the density of biosensing arrays on neurochemical probes. For neural sensing applications, smaller probes means less damage to the brain. This motivates our efforts to reduce the spacing between biosensors. However, when the spacing between sensors is reduced, H2O2 generated on one sensor can diffuse to a nearby sensor leading to a false positive detection event. We’ve developed enzymatic methods to reduce this chemical cross-talk. The student working on this project will make use of random walk simulations to understand, validate, and improve our approach.

Project 2: Understanding the effects of flow on chemical cross-talk in biosensor assays under flow conditions (lateral flow assays): When biochemical assays are performed in the presence of flow, the flow significantly increases the length scales over which chemical cross-talk leads to false-positive results. My team has explored this effect through both simulations and experiments on our existing biosensor arrays. The student working on this project will extend this investigation to geometries and flow rates of specific interest to lateral flow assays. Including direct comparison of simulated results with experimental data from the literature.

Projects focused on extending these results with experimental validation may be possible in Summer 2022.

Essay prompt: What interests you most about the project, what do you hope to get out of the research project and how does it fit with your long term goals? What skills do you bring to the group and to the project? 


Name of research group, project, or lab
Arlett lab
Why join this research group or lab?

You are interested in modeling complex systems at the interface between physics and bioengineering in order to better understand and advance the limits of current biosensing technology. The two proposed projects are designed to have strong overlap to encourage collaborative efforts.

Logistics Information:
Project categories
Biomedical Engineering
Student ranks applicable
Student qualifications

Enthusiasm. This research is accessible to students at all levels and has no specific requirements other than a commitment to learn on the job and interest in cross-disciplinary research. Please mention relevant experience in your essay.

Time commitment
Spring - Part Time
Academic Credit
Number of openings
Techniques learned

Students will make use of computational methods to understand the complexities of a real experimental system and make changes that will have real impact on device performance. For random walk simulations of molecular diffusion, students will make use of and expand on code written by a previous student in the group (in Julia). For the second project, the student will also model flow profiles in COMSOL.

Contact Information:
Mentor name
Jessica Arlett
Mentor email
Mentor position
Visiting Assistant Professor
Name of project director or principal investigator
Jessica Arlett
Email address of project director or principal investigator
2 sp. | 0 appl.
Hours per week
Spring - Part Time
Project categories
Physics (+1)
PhysicsBiomedical Engineering