THE PhD student of the week: Domenica Convertino

I graduated in 2012 in Biomedical Engineering at Politecnico di Torino with a master thesis in droplet based microfluidics. In May 2013 I started an internship at CNI@NEST about the characterization of graphene on different substrates. I grew graphene on SiC using a CVD system and analyzed the samples with AFM, Raman spectroscopy and SEM.

In November 2014 I started a PhD in Biophysical Sciences at Scuola Normale Superiore. The aim of my project is to devise and implement novel graphene-based devices that will be able to detect cancer biomarkers from biological fluids (blood, urine, saliva), including exosomes, by using different readout strategies. I started with an optical readout approach to subsequently move towards an electrical label-free detection. The main goal is the development of a device with high specificity and sensitivity.

I am currently working on the non-covalent functionalization of the graphene surface grown on SiC in order to maintain unaltered graphene peculiar electronic properties and its low a-specific interaction with biological matter. The functionalized surface can be reacted with specific recognizing biomolecules, such as antibodies and aptamers, able to bind fluorescent biomarkers, visible optically.

Figure. Schematic of graphene sheet functionalized with an antibody