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nanoHUB-U: Principles of Electronic Nanobiosensors

A five week course distilling the principles and physics of electronic nanobiosensors.


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Offering: 01a
Section: Self Paced

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About the Instructor

Muhammad A. Alam's photo

Muhammad A. Alam

Purdue University

MUHAMMAD ASHRAFUL ALAM is a Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering where his research and teaching focus on physics, simulation, characterization and technology of classical and emerging electronic devices. From 1995 to 2003, he was with Bell Laboratories, Murray Hill, NJ, where he made important contributions to reliability physics of electronic devices, MOCVD crystal growth, and performance limits of semiconductor lasers. At Purdue, Alam’s research has broadened to include flexible electronics, solar cells, and nanobiosensors. He is a fellow of the AAAS, IEEE, and APS and received the 2006 IEEE Kiyo Tomiyasu Award for contributions to device technology.

This five-week short course aims to introduce students to electronic nanobiosensors using a unique, “bottom up” approach.


Muhammad (Ashraf) Alam is Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Purdue University. His research focuses on theory, simulation, characterization, and compact modeling of electronic, optoelectronic, and bioelectronic devices. He is well known for his contributions to reliability of electronic devices and for elegant, cross-disciplinary solutions to fundamentally important problems of flexible electronics, nanobiosensing, MEMS, and solar cells.

Course Objectives

This course will provide an in-depth analysis of the origin of the extra-ordinary sensitivity, fundamental limits, and operating principles of modern nanobiosensors. The primary focus will be the physics of biomolecule detection in terms of three elementary concepts: response time, sensitivity, and selectivity. And, we will use potentiometric, amperometric, and cantilever-based mass sensors to illustrate the application of these concepts to specific sensor technologies. Students of this course will not learn how to fabricate a sensor, but will be able to decide what sensor to make, appreciate their design principles, interpret measured results, and spot emerging research trends.

Who Should Take the Course

Engineers, chemists, physicists, technology developers, and product managers who have an interest in the emerging field of nanobiosensing.


Freshman/sophomore level preparation in physics, chemistry, biology, and mathematics.

Course Outline

Preview the lectures below, or join the course by clicking the yellow button on the right and entering your nanoHUB login information!

Week 1: Introduction to Nanobiosensors/ Settling Time

Week 2: Setting Time

Week 3: Sensitivity

Week 4: Selectivity

Week 5: Putting the Pieces Together

Course Resources

  • A account is required to perform the simulation exercises. Sign up for free now!
  • Prerecorded video lectures distilling the essential concepts of nanobiosensors into a concise, five-week module.
  • Homework exercises with solutions and homework tutorials.
  • Online quizzes to quickly assess understanding of material after each video lecture.
  • An online forum, hosted by nanoHUB and monitored by the professors. Students enrolled in the course will be able to interact with one another.
  • Exams for each weekly module. Once a student starts a test, the student will have two hours to complete it. The tests are scored instantly.


This self-paced course is available at no cost to anyone with a account.

nanoHUB-U is powered by, the home for computational nanoscience and nanotechnology research, education, and collaboration., a resource for nanoscience and nanotechnology, is supported by the National Science Foundation and other funding agencies. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.