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Muheng Zhang

Ph.D., Mechanical Engineering, University of Louisville, 2010-Present
M.S., Mechanical Engineering, Tongji University, 2009
B.S., Mechanical Engineering, Tongji University, 2006
Curriculum Vitae

Research Summary
The Coulter technique enables rapid analysis of cells suspended in a fluid stream for a variety of applications. By far the most common example is the white blood cell count to check for infection. More specialized tests include cancer detection and fertility analysis. In this technique, the cells or particles are suspended in a conducting solution and produce a characteristic voltage signal when they interrupt an electrical path. The population and size of the cells can be obtained through analyzing the voltage signal. Such electrical measurements promise a dramatically smaller and cheaper system than the competing technology of optical flow cytometry. There has been comparatively little research into fine-tuning the electrical impedance based Coulter technique to detect distinctions in cell immunostate. To fulfill the potential of the Coulter counter, we propose to model a microfluidic Coulter (electrical impedance) cell counter system using multiphysics simulation. Specifically, we will investigate the effect of channel width, flow speed, temperature, thermal and mass diffusivities, buffers and cell-labeling agents on the electrical conductivity of the entire system. The development of the simulation tool along with a design optimization methodology will allow variations of the device layout and reagents for maximum electrical contrast between uninfected and disease-infected cells to be explored and a robust Coulter device to be designed.

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