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Published article features the work of high school researcher

By Jinbo Hu

A research article recently published in the American Chemical Society journal Analytical Chemistry features the work of a high school summer researcher. To read the paper, go to

In the article, researchers from the Department of Chemistry report an advance in the development of miniaturized ion sensors. High-performance all-solid-state reference electrodes were developed employing colloid-imprinted mesoporous (CIM) carbon as a solid contact material. To achieve sensor miniaturization, this reference system is integrated into disposable paper-based ion sensing devices that are inexpensive and easy to use. These paper-based ion sensing devices offer highly reproducible measurements with sample volumes as low as 10 µL. This work is built on two prior collaborative projects within and outside the department; one between Professors Philippe Buhlmann and Andreas Stein to develop CIM carbon-based all-solid-state ion-selective electrodes (Anal. Chem. 2014, 86, 7111-7118. U.S. Provisional Pat. App. 62/002526), and the other between Professors George Whitesides from Harvard University and Philippe Buhlmann in the development of paper-based potentiometric sensors (Anal. Chem. 2014, 86, 9548-9553. U.S. Pat. App.  61/789883).

Major contributors of this work include Jinbo Hu, who is a graduate student under the supervision of Professors Philippe Buhlmann and Andreas Stein, and Kieu Ho, who is a student from a Como Park Senior High School. Kieu worked as a high school researcher in Professor Buhlmann’s lab during the summer of 2014. Her project involved testing of different materials for the construction of hydrophobic barriers in paper-based ion sensors, which eventually became a cornerstone of the published work.

“I spent eight weeks experiencing chemistry, which I have never had before. I still remember the first day when I came into a lab, all the things such as chemicals and instruments were so exciting to me.” said Kieu.

Kieu’s research experience was made possible by the American Chemical Society project SEED summer research program, which offers research opportunities in industrial, academic, and federal laboratories for economically disadvantaged high school students.

Kieu highly praises the SEED program: “It was the SEED program that made it possible for me to experience what it’s like to be a chemist. I felt as if I was catching up to modern technology, which was great. I highly recommend this program to the people I know from school who love chemistry and want some experiences in a real lab.”

Kieu is currently applying for the SEED program for another summer, and considering choosing a science major when she enters college. “Being able to work in a lab like this really opened up what I want to do in the future,” she said.

Pictured: SEED student Kieu Ho and Professor Philippe Buhlmann at poster session of the MN Section of the American Chemical Society, where Kieu presented her work.