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Alabama’s vibrant timberland, established pulp and paper resources and significant agricultural resources make the state a hotbed for a specific natural resource: cellulose, which is found in the biomass of forest and agricultural products. Cellulose plays a significant role in the development of biosensors that can, among other uses, detect pesticides in water. Auburn University faculty members from the Departments of Chemical Engineering and Forestry and Wildlife Sciences are exploring the use of nanocellulose in the development of such low cost, rapid, point of care/use biosensors with an award from the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs (ADECA).

Chemical engineering faculty Virginia Davis, the Alumni Professor, and Robert Ashurst, the Uthault Family Associate Professor, are working with Maria Soledad Peresin, assistant professor of forest biomaterials, on the project titled “Advanced Biosensors from Forestry Products and Agricultural Resources.” Davis and Ashurst have previously developed patented technology for making tiny devices called Microelectromechanical Systems (MEMS) from cellulose nanocrystals. Peresin and collaborators have used cellulose nanocrystals to improve the sensitivity of the standard enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) methodology for biosensing.

Learn more about the research project here.