BEE4550/6550: Biologically Inspired Microsystems Engineering                  Fall  2015

Mingming Wu  



This course will cover fundamental principles that nature uses to build and control living systems at molecular, cellular and tissue levels; engineering principles for fabricating micro- and nano- meter scale devices.  The course will focus on solving problems at the intersections of biology and microsystems engineering. The lab session will provide students with hands-on experiences in cell culture, micro-fabricated devices and live cell imaging.










A drawing of Escherichia coli (30,000x, by Goodsell). E.coli is a micro-swimmer

invented by nature. It has its own set of nano-scale motors and micro-scale propellers.


Essentials: This course (3 credit option) satisfies BEE lab requirement, as well as Biological, Bioprocessing and Environmental engineering concentration requirement. Lectures Wed/Fri 8:40 – 9:55am; Labs Mon 1:25 – 4:25pm.  If you do not take the course with the lab component, it is 2 credit hours; otherwise, it is 3 credit hours.

Course content

  1. Length and time scales in biological systems.
  2. Molecular motors.
  3. Cellular motility and chemotaxis.
  4. Radom walk in biology at micro-scale, active matters.
  5. Cell – cell communication
    1. Prokaryotic cell communication (quorum sensing, cell community…)
    2. Eukaryotic cell communication (auto/paracrine signaling, haptotaxis…)
    3. Cellular network formation in the context of vascular and angiogenesis.
  1. Micro-valves, pumps, and microcirculation system.
  2. Transport at micrometer scale in living systems.
  3. Introduction to transport in micro/nano- fabricated systems.
  4. Manipulating biomolecules, cells using Microsystems engineering
  5. Applications of microsystems engineering in medicine and environmental engineering.


Final presentations from students:

"Presentation1: Butterfly Inspired Material Design"

"Presentation2: Cephalopod Inspired Elastomers Fluoresce at the Microscale "

"Presentation3: Geobacter-Based Sensors for Contaminant Detection in Wastewater "

"Presentation4: The DNA brain: Micro-scale computation using DNA strand displacement "