Lab-on-a-Chip Technologies for Monitoring the Effects of Silver Nanotechnologies on Cryptosporidia Oocysts in Drinking Water

James A. Smith
Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering , School of Engineering and Applied Science, UVa

Rebecca Dillingham
Infectious Disease, School of Medicine, UVa

Nathan Swami
Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, School of Applied Science and Engineering, UVa

Oocysts of Cryptosporidium parvum (C. parvum) can cause human gastrointestinal infections which can be fatal for immuno-suppressed individuals.  The deactivation of C. parvum in drinking water supplies has proven to be an extremely challenging task because of difficulties in the detection of the oocyst and its resistance to conventional disinfection technologies (e.g. hypochlorous acid).  Nanomaterials, including silver nanoparticles, have emerged as promising candidates for point-of-use water disinfection technologies, but their application towards the deactivation of C. parvum has not been explored due to the difficulties associated with detecting and quantifying the concentration of C. parvum oocysts in water.  This seed project is an interdisciplinary collaboration between the Schools of Engineering and Medicine to develop lab-on-a-chip technologies based on fluorescence and dielectrophoresis methodologies for monitoring the deactivation of C. parvum and to enable the optimization of nanomaterial formulations for water treatment based on environmental conditions of the water supply and the health needs of the communities.  We anticipate this work will enable major advances towards the monitoring and deactivation of C. parvum in water distribution systems.