Modeling analyte transport and capture in porous bead sensors

Jie Chou, Alexis Lennart, Jorge Wong, Mehnaaz F. Ali, Pierre N. Floriano, Nicolaos Christodoulides, James Camp, John T. McDevitt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Porous agarose microbeads, with high surface to volume ratios and high binding densities, are attracting attention as highly sensitive, affordable sensor elements for a variety of high performance bioassays. While such polymer microspheres have been extensively studied and reported on previously and are now moving into real-world clinical practice, very little work has been completed to date to model the convection, diffusion, and binding kinetics of soluble reagents captured within such fibrous networks. Here, we report the development of a three-dimensional computational model and provide the initial evidence for its agreement with experimental outcomes derived from the capture and detection of representative protein and genetic biomolecules in 290 μm porous beads. We compare this model to antibody-mediated capture of C-reactive protein and bovine serum albumin, along with hybridization of oligonucleotide sequences to DNA probes. These results suggest that, due to the porous interior of the agarose bead, internal analyte transport is both diffusion and convection based, and regardless of the nature of analyte, the bead interiors reveal an interesting trickle of convection-driven internal flow. On the basis of this model, the internal to external flow rate ratio is found to be in the range of 1:170 to 1:3100 for beads with agarose concentration ranging from 0.5% to 8% for the sensor ensembles here studied. Further, both model and experimental evidence suggest that binding kinetics strongly affect analyte distribution of captured reagents within the beads. These findings reveal that high association constants create a steep moving boundary in which unbound analytes are held back at the periphery of the bead sensor. Low association constants create a more shallow moving boundary in which unbound analytes diffuse further into the bead before binding. These models agree with experimental evidence and thus serve as a new tool set for the study of bioagent transport processes within a new class of medical microdevices.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2569-2575
Number of pages7
JournalAnalytical Chemistry
Issue number5
StatePublished - Mar 6 2012

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Analytical Chemistry


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