Date of Award




Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Department of Chemistry

Content Description

1 online resource (ii, ix, 86 pages)

Dissertation/Thesis Chair

Alan Chen

Committee Members

Ken Halvorsen, Jayanti Pande, Mehmet Yigit


centrifuge, COMMERCIALIZATION, development, single-molecule, technology, Centrifuges, Microscopes, Molecules, Smart materials, Scientific apparatus and instruments

Subject Categories

Business Administration, Management, and Operations | Chemistry | Engineering


The technology development of two centrifuge-based instruments gave rise to an Internet-of-Things (IOT) biotech startup. The first instrument: the centrifuge force microscope (CFM) was recently introduced as a platform for massively parallel single-molecule manipulation and analysis. Here we developed a low-cost and self-contained CFM module that works directly within a commercial centrifuge, greatly improving accessibility and ease of use. Our instrument incorporates research grade video microscopy, a power source, a computer, and wireless transmission capability to simultaneously monitor many individually tethered microspheres. Building off of the first project, the second instrument we introduced was the “smart” centrifuge-test tube holder. The centrifuge is among the oldest and most widely used pieces of laboratory equipment, with significant applications that include clinical diagnostics and biomedical research. A major limitation of laboratory centrifuges is their ‘black box’ nature, limiting sample observation to before and after centrifugation. Thus, optimized protocols require significant trial and error, while unoptimized protocols waste time by centrifuging longer than necessary or material due to incomplete sedimentation. Here, we developed an instrumented centrifuge tube receptacle compatible with several commercial benchtop centrifuges that can provide real-time sample analysis during centrifugation. We demonstrated the system by monitoring cell separations during centrifugation for different spin speeds, concentrations, buffers, cell types, and temperatures. We show that the collected data are valuable for analytical purposes (e.g. quality control), or as feedback to the user or the instrument. For the latter, we verified an adaptation where complete sedimentation turned off the centrifuge and notified the user by a text message. Our system adds new functionality to existing laboratory centrifuges, saving users time and providing useful feedback. This add-on potentially enables new analytical applications for an instrument that has remained largely unchanged for decades. The accomplishment of the technology developments from the CFM and the “smart” test-tube holder lead to the realization that there is a strong demand within the scientific community for ‘smart’ scientific add-ons that complement existing instruments to improve efficiency and work-flow. The acknowledgement that scientists are forced to perform and wait for mundane experiments to be completed resulted in the formation of one of the first industrial-IOT (Internet of Things) biotech startup, Advanced Modular Instruments (AMI). The biotech startup develops next generation digital, “smart”, internet-connected scientific instruments to scientific discovery. The “smart” scientific instruments can be controlled through a smartphone app, tablet app and web UI (user interface). The information from “smart” scientific instruments to the remote computing servers are encrypted and obey compliance regulations to insure the integrity of the sensor readings for commercial, private and government use.