KUREHA PIEZO FILMS The Power of Flexibility

Sophisticated Designs are Fascinating

Elegantly Engineered Products Engage Everyone

When we chose to invite leaders in piezo design to share their experiences we decided to start the series with a Bioaerosol collector developed by Rutgers University. Like the articles to follow, the collector demonstrates both engineering ingenuity and the power and simplicity of Piezo film.

Kureha was the first to commercialize macromolecular films and the company owes it success to our spirit of collaboration with designers. We believe that dictating to the market “how, what and where” a material is used doesn’t lead to the best idea or product. It only adds layers of cost and complexity. You have to be flexible to win!

- Ray Anderson, Advanced Materials Manager

The Challenge

Create a simple efficient solution for sampling airborne pollutants and pathogens such as Black Mold Fungi Aspergillus which produce aflatoxins and cause pulmonary infections.

REPS - A Novel Solution

Using Piezo Films to Solve the Problem of Sampling Airborne Pathogens and Other Air Pollutants

Problem – Active air sampling equipment using air pumps, or other air movers such as fans, is the accepted state of technology; but it comes with some equally accepted shortcomings. Active samplers pull in surrounding air and can sample at different short term intervals. However, the equipment can be expensive and labor intensive, and each monitoring area is confined to a small space.

Solution – REPS is fully passive and so it requires no power source. Just place collectors in any area you choose and sample for however long you want. REPS is inconspicuous, inexpensive and disposable.

REPS - an Innovative Approach

Solving the Problems of Sampling Airborne Pathogens and Other Air Pollutants with Piezo Films

Problem – Active Sampling can be noisy, inconvenient and affect the viability of some biological samples.

Solution – REPS is compact, silent and it's gentle, passive sampling method enhances the preservation of microbial viability. REPS collectors can be used for hours, days or months in a confined space or over a large area. Collector cycles can be hours, days or months.

Rutgers Electrostatic Passive Sampler (REPS)

A Novel Solution for Long-Term Sampling of Airborne Pathogens and Other Air Pollutants

By: Jennifer Therkorn

Bioaerosols are airborne particles of biological origin, such as microorganisms and pollen. This includes any particles shed or produced by living organisms, such as pet dander and mycotoxins from fungi. A wide spectrum of adverse health effects can result from exposure to these airborne biological agents. For example, infectious diseases, such as the flu or tuberculosis can be spread by coughing or sneezing, or allergic respiratory conditions can be triggered or caused by inhalation of molds and other airborne allergens. To understand and mitigate the effects of bioaerosol exposures, one must be able to collect air samples containing these particles in a way that is representative of their concentrations and, ultimately, our exposures to them. However, almost all current air sampling methods rely on active sampling, i.e., the use of air pumps, which negatively affects the viability of the biological samples collected, increases costs, and limits when and where sampling can be performed.

Through collaboration between environmental and polymer material scientists, we have designed, developed and evaluated a new type of bioaerosol sampler that does not require any batteries, external power or pumps – an entirely passive collector. It is portable, cost-effective, and practical for conducting long-term sampling in any location. Our bioaerosol sampler, the Rutgers Electrostatic Passive Sampler (REPS), uses the large electric field present at the surface of polarized, ferroelectric polymer films to capture biological particles while streamlining sample transfer for analysis. REPS uses parallel oppositely polarized surfaces of uniaxially oriented poly(vinylidene fluoride) (PVDF) film separated by an optimized air channel width between these surfaces to electrostatically capture airborne particles. Proof of concept testing showed that REPS efficiently captures the full range of particle sizes exhibited by viruses, bacteria and fungi (molds) with varying particle surface charge, enhances preservation of microbial viability, and can be continuously operated from hours to months. REPS is especially well-suited to capture airborne pathogens as these types of particles tend to have a higher surface charge than non-biological airborne particles. The spiral shaped film sampler was prototyped using a 3D-printed film holder which provided user-friendly sampler setup and 100% elution efficiency of captured microbes.

REPS is the Only Passive Sampler Tailored Specifically for Biological Agents.

Through outdoor field-testing, we showed that REPS passively collected microorganisms at a rate comparable to that of an active reference sampler: it captured the same number of organisms as a commercial filter sampler operating at ~0.5 to 2.6 L/min, while also providing significantly enhanced preservation of microorganism viability, and culturability. Ultimately, REPS represents a new generation of tools for bioaerosol exposure assessment, which can improve monitoring of the spread of infectious diseases, including those resulting from malicious pathogen release. Other example applications include improved abilities to study pollen and allergen trends, or determine the locations of indoor mold sources. REPS is the only passive aerosol sampler tailored for collecting such a wide range of airborne biological agents, and its current form can be easily tailored for different applications, including personal, stationary or mobile monitoring networks. An international patent application (PCT) was filed in September of 2016.

Research Team

Research team - See Bios Below

Jennifer Therkorn

Received her Ph.D. in Environmental Science with a concentration area of Exposure Science from Rutgers University in October of 2016. She has a Master of Public Health degree from the Rutgers School of Public Health and a Bachelor’s of Science in Biology from Lehigh University. Her Ph.D. research focused on the design and development of a novel, passive bioaerosol sampler that enhances the electrostatic capture of airborne biological particles. She is now a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory.

Jerry Scheinbeim

Distinguished Professor of Chemical and Biochemical Engineering at Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey. He has a Ph.D. from the University of Pittsburgh in chemical physics and x-ray crystallography. His Polymer Electroprocessing Laboratory (PEL) researches electroactive polymer materials, including discovery of new classes of ferroelectric polymers and enhancements of their remanent polarization and other electroactive properties. His record of accomplishments includes 40 years of publications and multiple patents.

Gediminas “Gedi” Mainelis

Professor of Environmental Sciences, at Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey. He has under graduate degree in Physics from Vilnius University, Lithuania, and Ph.D. in Environmental Health from the University of Cincinnati, Ohio. Dr. Mainelis’s research focuses on various aspects of health-related aerosols and exposure assessment. A large part of his work centers on the development and investigation of various bioaerosol sampling and analysis techniques. Dr. Mainelis’s research has been presented in numerous peer-reviewed publications, conference abstracts, and proceedings. He is an author of three granted US patents and several pending patent applications.

Contact for more information: 848-932-5712

Journal Articles

Therkorn J, Thomas N, Calderon L, Scheinbeim J, Mainelis G. (2017).

Design and Development of a Passive Bioaerosol Sampler using Polarized Ferroelectric Polymer Film, Journal of Aerosol Science, 105: 128-144

Therkorn J, Thomas N, Scheinbeim J, Mainelis G. (2017).

Field Performance of a Novel Passive Bioaerosol Sampler using Polarized Ferroelectric Polymer Films, Aerosol Science and Technology, doi: 10.1080/02786826.2017.1316830

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