Murali Ghatkesar

Assistant Professor

Murali Ghatkesar is Assistant Professor in Micro and Nano Engineering. He obtained his first Master degree from University of Hyderabad and second Master degree from Indian Institute of Science in India. After a brief stint at industry, he got his PhD from University of Basel, Switzerland with "summa cum laude". Subsequently, on Swiss national science foundation prospective researcher fellowship and Novartis foundation fellowship he worked at Caltech, USA as postdoc. He also worked as research associate at University of Virginia, USA.

His research activities are focused at the nexus of physics and biology covering fundamental problems to applications using micro/nano scale devices. His goal is to invent micro/nano tools engaged with fluidics to help solve intriguing problems in biology and unravel some of the mysteries of nature.   

Research Interests
  • Micro/Nanomechanical device fabrication
  • Micro/Nano Instrumentation
  • Bioanalytical microfluidics
  • Biosensors
  • Biophysics
  • Surface functionalization 
Research Projects

uDROPLETS: Micro Dispensing a Raft of Oligonucleotides, Proteins or other Liquid Extacts to Targeted Sites
(In collaboration with Urs Staufer)

Chemical and biological sensors typically needs to be activated with the molecules of interest for their functionality. With ever shrinking sensor dimensions of these sensors, there is a need for tools that can directly access these devices for functionalization or delivery of sensing material. The goal of this project is to design and fabricate a nano-tool for controlled manipulation of small volumes of liquid in the femto-litre range or delivery of gases very locally. 

Highlights:

  • Single on-chip reservoir and double on-chip reservoir type hollow AFM cantilevers were fabricated
  • Cartridge-type dispensing system with integrated thermal pumping mechanism was developed
  • Piezoresistive hollow AFM cantilever developed
  • Synthesis of gold nano particles by mixing two femto-litre volume liquid droplets demonstrated
  • Gluing of graphene performed for tensile force testing
  • A nano work-bench developed by integrating hollow AFM cantilever on a micro robot
  • A new complete dedicated AFM femto-pipette platform with climate control is developed 

Researchers:

  • Héctor Hugo Pérez Garza (PhD Thesis)
  • An Tran Trong (Postdoc)
  • Rick de Gruiter (Master Thesis)

NFP4CryoEM: Nanomechanical femto-pipette for cryo electron microscope sample preperation 
(In collaboration with Urs Staufer, Andreas Engel, Peter Peters, Bram Koster, Nanosurf AG, Smarttip BV) 

Advances in cryo-electron microscopy (cryo-EM) have made it possible to visualize the three dimensional organization of a vitrified single cell with its dynamic internal structure immobilized in a native state at nanometer resolution. Major current limitations that hinder wide use of this powerful technique are elaborate sample preparation protocols and the difficulty in identifying sample subvolumes of interest. We propose to use hollow cantilever atomic force microscopy (AFM) technology to prepare cryo-EM samples by aspirating specific sub-volumes containing organelles, cytoskeletal assemblies, molecular motors, signaling complexes, or membrane structures directly from a cell, and dispense them onto the EM sample grid for vitrification. Entirely new avenues will emerge for studying cellular macromolecular assemblies, their response to drugs, and how drugs are delivered. 

Researchers:

  • Eleonoor Verlinden (PhD Thesis) 
Awards
  • "summa cum laude" for PhD Thesis
  • Swiss national science foundation prospective researcher fellowship
  • Novartis foundation fellowship
  • Best poster award at a NanonextNL workshop on Bubbles, Droplets and Spheres (Co-authored)
  • Best poster award (Third place) at Nanocity conference 2015 (Co-authored)
Professional Activities
  • Associate editor for IEEE Transactions on Nanotechnology
  • Reviewer for Journal of Applied Physics; ACS Nano; IEEE Sensors; Journal of sound and vibration; Biophysical Journal; IEEE 2nd International Conference on Emerging Electronics (2014) 
  • Member of IEEE, American Physical Society, European Physical Society
  • PhD confirmation committee (Go-no-Go): Samee Rehman, Marco Zocca, Banafsheh Sajadi, Selman Tamer, Sasan Keyvani Janbahan, Marsil de Athayde Costa de Silva
Teaching
  • ME1640: Micro and nano fabrication design and fabrication including MEMS lab (responsible)
  • ME1611: Physics for mechanical engineers (co-responsible)
  • Introduction week experiments for PME students (responsible)
  • Graduate course on “Mechanics in microsystems” (contributing) 
Master Projects
  • Chemical vapour deposition of carbon nanotube arrays for spinning a yarn (Jeroen Buter)
  • Dosing of liquids with AFM-FP (Rick de Gruiter)
  • Stiffness tuning of AFM cantilever (Marcel de Laat)
  • Piezoresistive hollow AFM cantilevers (Ronald Stoutte)
Bachelor Projects
  • Non-contact filtering of latex beads in a microfluidic channel using acoustic trapping
    (Team: Bas, Joran, Yannick, BerendWinners of "one of the best project" award)
  • Feasibility study of a polymer piezoelectric actuated microfluidic pump
    (Team: Frank, Cars, Dave, Kevin)
  • Low-cost and portable microfluidic devices with active elements
    (Team: Menno, Koen, Omar, Robert; Winners of "one of the best project" award)

Ghatkesar, Dr. M.K. (Murali)