Publication Date


Document Type


Committee Members

Saber Hussain (Committee Member), Allen Jackson (Committee Member), Sharmila Mukhopadhyay (Advisor)

Degree Name

Master of Science in Engineering (MSEgr)


Carbon substrates have a wide variety of applications, many of which are enabled by appropriate surface modifications. In particular, the use of carbon-based substrates for biological devices can be quite advantageous due to their relative inertness and biocompatibility. Moreover, graphitic carbon can take many forms ranging from flat sheets to foams, fibers, and nanotubes. In this project, larger carbon substrates such as microcellular foam and flat graphite have been modified with carbon nanotubes, and their potential use in two types of biological applications was tested. The first study involved an investigation of the growth and proliferation of osteoblast cells on carbon, so that such structures can be evaluated for possible use as a scaffold for in-vivo tissue regeneration. The surface modifications that were compared are a collagen coating, a silica film, and a strongly adhered carbon nanotube layer. It was seen that the attachment of carbon nanotubes led to the highest density and viability of osteoblast cells on the surface indicating their potential benefit in implant and cell scaffolding applications. In the second study, carbon nanotubes were attached on the graphite, and subsequently decorated with gold nanoparticles and a ribonucleic acid (RNA) sequence. These nano-structures show advantages in detecting the DH5α E. coli bacterial strain, indicating potential use as a biosensor. Proof-of-concept results indicate increased attachment of gold nanoparticles coated with an RNA capture element compared to uncoated particles onto the E. coli. This demonstrates the potential use of this concept in creation of a multi-array sensor for fast and sensitive detection of many types of pathogens. These results clearly show that attachment of carbon nanotubes on larger carbon substrates can provide the basis for several unique biological devices.

Page Count


Department or Program

Department of Mechanical and Materials Engineering

Year Degree Awarded