Edward A. Meier
Researchers are predicting cancer will be the number one cause of deaths in the United States by 2030. Therefore, better methods of detecting and diagnosing cancer cells are required. Further research has shown that cancer cells act very differently than normal cells, and that these characteristics can be used to detect and diagnose certain cancers. One such characteristic is the force exerted by cells undergoing tumorigenesis. Polyvinylidene Fluoride (PVDF) has been of particular interest in recent years in bioMEMS devices because of its biocompatibility and piezoelectric properties. A device that takes advantage of PVDFs properties could measure these forces. Cellular force sensing can open new frontiers for diagnoses of diseases, better understanding of cellular mechanics, and a faster and less expensive than alternative methods of cellular force sensing. This thesis presents the development of a sensor based on a microstructured piezoelectric thin film on a CCD to measure these cell forces. First, a model was designed to show the feasibility of such a device. The model provided a theoretical range of forces that can be expected from the device. The model showed that each pillar would be capable of measuring forces from about 26fN/s to 100pN/s, which correlated with the forces measure by other cellular force sensors. Finally, a prototype device was created as a proof of concept. This device reacted to force stimuli and gave results that were expected.