Meeting Information

Multidisciplinary Aspects of Developing Small Sensing Devices for Monitoring Chemicals and Biochemicals

March 11, 2020
American Center for Physics
College Park, MD

Date: March 11, 2020 (This is the 2nd rather than the usual 3rd Wednesday.)
Speaker: Dr. Steve Semancik, Biomolecular Measurement Division, National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)
Title: Multidisciplinary Aspects of Developing Small Sensing Devices for Monitoring Chemicals and Biochemicals.
Time and Location: 1:00 p.m., with Q&A to follow in first floor conference room C at the American Center for Physics (, 1 Physics Ellipse, College Park, MD - off River Rd., between Kenilworth Ave. and Paint Branch Parkway.

Abstract: Sensors are needed for an ever-increasing spectrum of chemical and biochemical monitoring applications. When mated with inexpensive control, computing and communication circuitry for point, network and even “wearable” deployment, reliable sensing platforms have the potential to impact diverse technical sectors (including environmental monitoring, process control, homeland security, planetary exploration, health screening/monitoring and medical research). This presentation will discuss multidisciplinary research efforts within the NIST microsensor program which attempt to emulate the chemical detection capabilities that have evolved in certain insects and animals, or been engineered into larger expensive instruments, such as mass spectrometers.  Microdevices which employ chemiresistive, photonic and electrochemical methods of transduction and signal generation for sensing of gas-phase and solution-phase samples will be described. Considerable activity has been directed toward the fabrication, integration and use of nanostructured materials in our prototypes to improve performance characteristics - such as nanoparticle oxide films in high-sensitivity chemiresistive gas sensors, and Ag nanodome arrays for enhanced localized surface plasmon resonance measurements. Various sensing approaches that utilize microscale temperature control will also be described, to show how our gas-phase sensor signals are enriched for analyses of chemical mixtures, and to enable biomolecular melting studies via electrochemical measurements.

Biography: Steve Semancik is a Physicist in the Biomolecular Measurement Division at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), and Supervisory Leader of the Chemical and Biochemical Microsensor Program at NIST. He received his B.S. degree in physics from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and his Sc.M. and Ph.D. degrees, also in physics, from Brown University. His professional research career began as a National Research Council Postdoctoral Associate (at what was then the National Bureau of Standards). Dr. Semancik’s program on advanced microsensors has utilized and combined concepts from the fields of surface and interfacial chemistry, analytical chemistry, biology, solid state physics, nanomaterials science, microelectronics, electrochemistry, plasmonics and signal processing. A key objective and achievement of these multidisciplinary efforts has been the development of application-tunable microdevices for monitoring chemical and biochemical molecules in varied environments.