Nicole McFarlane

Nicole McFarlane

University of Tennessee, USA

Title: Vertically aligned carbon nanofiber biosensors


Nicole McFarlane received the BS and MS degrees in electrical engineering from Howard University, Washington DC, in 2001 and 2003 respectively, and her PhD in Electrical Engineering at the University of Maryland, College Park in 2010. Her research experience includes growing and characterizing III–V Nitrides, understanding information and power efficiency trade-offs in mixed signal integrated circuit design, CMOS biosensors and CMOS/MEMS integration for lab-on-a-chip technologies. She has been an Assistant Professor at the University of Tennessee since 2010, working on sensors, devices and electronics for portable and implantable applications.


Electrophysiological, electrochemical and electroanalytical detection performed using electrodes in the nanometer range have emerged as promising avenues for the interrogation and monitoring of real time biochemical dynamics at the single cell level. The promise of these electrodes lie in their fast response times, high mass sensitivity, small size, large linear dynamic range, and molecules of interest which can be followed without the need for chemical derivitization, as is necessary with fluorescent probe techniques. In the large variety of sensor materials available, carbon is a popular sensing electrode due to its unique structural and material properties. These properties include high conductivity, durability in harsh environment, and inertness to processing steps. The crucial advantage of aligned carbon nanofibers over other nanostructures, such an carbon nanotubes, is that they can be grown deterministically such that their position, height, tip diameter, and, to some extent, shape and orientation can all be controlled. Additionally, reliable mechanical and electrical contact to the substrate can be established because of their excellent conductive and structural properties. In collaboration with Syed Islam’s group and Oak Ridge National Lab, we have demonstrated an electrochemical biosensing platform using vertically aligned carbon nanofibers. The sensor is capable of sensing a wide range of physiolocially relevant glucose levels and has shown excellent repeatablility, linearity, sensitivity and resolution. This talk will present the status of our work including our experimental results and future plans for the technology.