Deakin Research

Institute for Frontier Materials

Molecular diagnostics and biosensors

Micro- and nano-systems have important biomedical applications such as molecular diagnostics and biosensors. Our major contributions include microfluidics for multiplex PCR technology, molecular diagnostics with functionalised microfluidics, and biosensors.

Molecular diagnostics

Dr Sugumar Dharmalingam, Xinchu Zhao, Tahir Ghandoori

An ageing population and increasing pandemics of contagious diseases urgently require the development of point-of-care diagnostic technologies. The employment of micro-engineering and nanotechnology have shown the potential for developing and deploying portable detection systems close to the patients.

We have introduced a new polymerase chain reaction technology that uses micro-litres of reagents, resulting in significantly reduced detection time for major diseases. The technology has been protected in a number of countries, including Australia, by an international patent. Global financial services company UBS has recognised its great potential for disadvantaged societies and provided strong support for the further development of the technology.

Prof Lingxue Kong and Dr Sugumar Dharmalingham
The work on PLGA encapsulated nano and micro-particles has been highlighted on the front cover of the Journal of Applied Polymer Sciences Volume 129, Issue 2 on 15 July 2013.

The technology has been highly commended internationally and has won the following awards:

PCRDisc: gold medal, 20th Invention, Innovation and Technology Exhibition (ITEX2009) in Kuala Lumpur 15-17 May 2009.

PCRDisc: iENA (International Trade Fair - Ideas - Inventions-New Products - Nuremberg), iENA Special Award for Best Invention

PCRDisc: JIPA (Japan Intellectual Property Association) Award for the Best Invention in Biotechnology, 2009

Gold medal: International Exposition of Research and Invention of Institutions of Higher Learning 2009, Ministry of Higher Education, Malaysia

iENA 2009 International Trade Fair (Ideas -Inventions-New Products - Nuremberg), Gold Medal for Multiplex PCRDisc, 2009


Sugumar, D., Kong, L. X., Ismail, A., Ravichandran, M. and Lee, S. Y. (2012) Biomicrofluidics, 6, 014119 (DOI: 10.1063/1.3690469)

Sugumar, D., Asma, I., Manickam, R., Ismail A. and Kong, L.X. (2010) Biomicrofluidics, 4 (2), 024103 (DOI:10.1063/1.3422524)

Surface enhanced Raman substrates for ultrasensitive sensors

Dr Leonora Velleman

Surface Enhanced Raman Spectroscopy (SERS) is a powerful analytical tool which allows very low concentrations, or even single molecules, to be detected when they are adsorbed onto roughened metals such as gold, silver and copper.

We have investigated various gold and copper nanostructures for use as SERS substrates to determine the structural impact on the enhancement properties of the material. Many of the substrates were fabricated via an electroless plating technique onto flat substrates or inherently ordered materials such as porous alumina (Figure 1). Electroless deposition is a coating technique that allows non-conducting and soft materials to be coated in metals. It also allows deposition within nanopores and cavities, which enables 3D structures to be replicated. Electroless deposition is a valuable technique in the fabrication of novel metal nanostructures for application as SERS sensors.

SEM images of various gold substrates explored for SERS applications
Figure 1 SEM images of various gold substrates explored for SERS applications (Left: electroless gold film. Middle: templated gold nanotubes. Right: dealloyed nanoporous gold leaf). Bottom: SERS spectra of a monolayer of 4-mercaptobenzoic acid on gold nanotubes.

Deakin University acknowledges the traditional land owners of present campus sites.

16th August 2013