CMOS RF Biosensor Utilizing Nuclear Spin Resonance

Donhee Ham, John L. Loeb Associate Professor, EE & Applied Physics, Harvard University

Thursday, October 2, 2008
11 a.m.

CSB 209


I will present our recent work that showcases how silicon RF chips can be used not only for wireless RF applications, but also for biosensing aimed at early disease detection. The main function of our RF chip is to manipulate and monitor RF dynamics of protons in water via nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR). Target biological objects such as cancer marker proteins alter the proton dynamics, which is the basis for our biosensing. The RF chip has a receiver noise figure of 0.7 dB. This high sensitivity made possible construction of an entire NMR system around the transceiver in a 2-kg portable platform, which is 60 times lighter, yet 60 times more sensitive than a state-of-the-art commercial benchtop NMR system. Sensing one avidin molecule out of 40 trillion water molecules, our system is a circuit designer's approach to pursue early disease detection and improved human healthcare.

Speaker Biography

Donhee Ham is John L. Loeb Associate Professor of the Natural Sciences and Associate Professor of Electrical Engineering at Harvard University, where he is with the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (Programs: Electrical Engineering and Applied Physics).

He received the B.S. degree in physics from Seoul National University, Korea, in 1996, where he graduated summa cum laude with the Valedictorian Prize as well as the Presidential Prize, ranked top 1st across the Natural Science College, and also with the Physics Gold Medal (sole winner). Following 1.5 years of mandatory military service in the Republic of Korea Army, he proceeded to California Institute of Technology, where he received the MS degree in physics in 1999 working on general relativity and gravitational astrophysics, and PhD degree in electrical engineering in 2002 winning the Charles Wilts Doctoral Thesis Prize, Best thesis award in Electrical Engineering. His doctoral work examined statistical physics of electrical circuits. He was the recipient of the IBM Doctoral Fellowship, Li Ming Scholarship, IBM Faculty Partnership Award, IBM Research Design Challenge Award, Silver Medal in the National Mathematics Olympiad, and the fellow of the Korea Foundation of Advanced Studies. He shared Harvard's Hoopes prize with William Franklin Andress. He was recognized by MIT Technology Review as among the world's top 35 young innovators in 2008 (TR35), for his group's work on CMOS RF biomolecular sensor utilizing nuclear spin resonance to pursue early disease detection.

Donhee Ham's work expriences include Caltech-MIT Laser Interferometer Gravitational Wave Observatory (LIGO), IBM T. J. Watson Research Center, IEEE conference technical program committees including the IEEE International Solid-State Circuits Conference (ISSCC) and the IEEE Asian Solid-State Circuits Conference (ASSCC), advisory board for the IEEE International Symposium on Circuits and Systems (ISCAS), international advisory board for the Institute for Nanodevice and Biosystems, and various US, Korea, and Japan industry, government, & academic technical advisory positions on subjects including ultrafast electronics, science & technology at the nanoscale, and the interface between biotechnology and microelectronics. He is serving as a guest editor for the IEEE Journal of Solid-State Circuits, (JSSC) and is a co-editor of CMOS Biotechnology with Springer (2007).

Ham's current research focus is on (1) RF/microwave, analog& mixed-signal ICs, (2) ultrafast 1-dimensional electron transport, (3) soliton electronics, (4) applications of CMOS ICs in biotechnology, and (5) nonequilibrium statistical physics of electrical circuits. At Harvard University, Donhee Ham works with a group of talented electrical engineering and applied physics students, which include top rankers in top universities worldwide, US intercollegiate science competitions, and international science competitions.