Binary Research Group

Dr. Chen received his Ph.D. from the University of Maryland, USA in 1998. The BINARY lab (Biology, Information science and Nanotechnology Applications and Research laboratorY) was founded in Spring 2003. The mission is to provide a cross-disciplinary research environment for exploring new nanoscale device & circuit designs and nanotechnology for bio-medical applications. Our primary research focuses include:

  1. Developing a pulsed-wave technology platform to stimulate cell growth (with the applications in cell therapy, tissue engineering, mental health and antibody productions), and microorganism growth (with the applications in increasing renewable biofuel /algal oil, antibiotics, omega-3, and wine/beverage productions);
  2. Building functional nanomaterials for water filtration (removing microorganisms, organic chemicals and heavy metals), gene transformation of agricultural products, targeted cancer imaging and treatment, gene/peptide/microRNA delivery (especially across the blood-brain-barrier);
  3. Designing portable impedance-based point-of-care devices for detecting metabolic biomarkers, monitoring environmental toxins, sensing plant infections at an earlier stage, and screening pathogens for food safety.

The University of Alberta is home to cutting edge facilities such as the National Institute for Nanotechnology, as well as having the interdisciplinary expertise to be an epicentre for new waves of innovation in Biomedical Engineering. The University of Alberta was ranked 46th in the world for the impact of its engineering publications.


Increasing Vaccine Production Using Pulsed Ultrasound Waves    (18/11/2017)

"Increasing Vaccine Production Using Pulsed Ultrasound Waves" by Jida Xing, Shrishti Singh, Yupeng Zhao, Yan Duan, Huining Guo, Chenxia Hu, Allan Ma, Rajan George, James Z. Xing, Ankarao Kalluri, Isaac Macwan, Prabir Patra, and Jie Chen was accepted by PLOS ONE Abstract:  Vaccination is a safe and effective approach to prevent deadly diseases. To increase vaccine production, we propose that a mechanical stimulation can enhance protein production. In order to prove this hypothesis, Sf9 insect cells were used to evaluate the increase in the expression of a fusion protein from hepatitis B virus (HBV S1/S2).  We discovered that the ultrasound stimulation at a frequency of 1.5 MHz, intensity of 60 mW/cm2, for a duration of 10 minutes per day increased HBV S1/S2 by 27%. We further derived a model for transport through a cell membrane under the effect of ultrasound waves, tested the key assumptions of the model through a molecular dynamics simulation package, NAMD (Nanoscale Molecular Dynamics program) and utilized CHARMM force field in a steered molecular dynamics environment. The results show that ultrasound waves can increase cell permeability, which, in turn, can enhance nutrient / waste exchange thus leading to enhanced vaccine production. This finding is very meaningful in either shortening vaccine production time, or increasing the yield of proteins for use as vaccines. 

High-Efficiency Charge Pumps for Low-Power On-chip Applications    (03/11/2017)

Xiaoxue Jiang, Xiaojian Yu, Kambiz Moez, Duncan G. Elliott and Jie Chen, “High-Efficiency Charge Pumps for Low-Power On-chip Applications”, (invite paper). It was selected from 1000+ submitted proceeding papers to IEEE Symposium on Circuits and Systems, May 28-31, 2017, Baltimore, USA as one of the top-ranked articles. It was included in the special issue of IEEE Trans. on Circuits and System – TCAS-I. Abstract—This paper proposes charge pumps with improved power efficiency suitable for low-power on-chip applications. Undesired charge transfer, which has a direction opposite to that of the intended current flow, presents a significant source of power loss in charge pumps. The proposed charge pump circuit utilizes charge transfer switches with a complementary branch scheme to significantly reduce undesired charge transfer, thereby improving power efficiency and increasing output voltage effectively. An optimized gate control strategy is applied to further decrease the power loss caused by undesired charge transfer. Simulations of 8-stage charge pumps in a 0.13 um standard CMOS technology show that for an input supply voltage of 1.2 V, the proposed charge pump circuit reaches a power efficiency of 58.72% with an output voltage of 7.45 V when delivering 5 mA load current, and is able to maintain a power efficiency of around 50% and an output voltage of over 5 V as the load current increases  [ ... ]

According to the QS worldwide University ranking 2017-2018, the University of Alberta is ranked 90 (number 4 in Canada).    (21/10/2017)

According to the QS worldwide University ranking 2017-2018, the University of Alberta is ranked 90 (number 4 in Canada).

"Using Impedance Measurements to Characterize Surface Modified with Gold Nanoparticles" was published    (13/10/2017)

Our article "Using Impedance Measurements to Characterize Surface Modified with Gold Nanoparticles" was published in "Sensors"  Abstract:   With the increased practice of preventative healthcare to help reduce costs worldwide, sensor technology improvement is vital to patient care. Point-of-care (POC) diagnostics can reduce time and lower labor in testing, and can effectively avoid transporting costs because of portable designs. Label-free detection allows for greater versatility in the detection of biological molecules. Here, we describe the use of an impedance-based POC biosensor that can detect changes in the surface modification of a micro-fabricated chip using impedance spectroscopy. Gold nanoparticles (GNPs) have been employed to evaluate the sensing ability of our new chip using impedance measurements. Furthermore, we used impedance measurements to monitor surface functionalization progress on the sensor’s interdigitated electrodes (IDEs). Electrodes made from aluminum and gold were employed and the results were analyzed to compare the impact of electrode material. GNPs coated with mercaptoundecanoic acid were also used as a model of biomolecules to greatly enhance chemical affinity to the silicon substrate. The portable sensor can be used as an alternative technology to ELISA (enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays) and polymerase chain reaction (PCR)-based techniques. This system has advantages over PCR and ELISA both in the amount of time [ ... ]

Article "Efficient Memory Partitioning for Parallel Data Access in FPGA via Data Reuse", has been published on IEEE Xplore.    (21/09/2017)

Abstract—Parallelizing the memory accesses in a loop nest is a critical challenge to enable loop pipelining. An effective way to tackle this issue in high-level synthesis for FPGA is to map these accesses to multiple on-chip memory banks using memory partitioning technique. In this paper, we propose an efficient memory partitioning algorithm with low overhead and low time complexity for parallel data access via data reuse. We find that for most of the applications in image and video processing, a large amount of data can be reused among different iterations of a loop nest. Motivated by this observation, we propose to cache these reusable data by on-chip registers. The on-chip registers used to cache the re-fetched data can be organized as register chains. The non-reusable data are then partitioned into several memory banks by a memory partition algorithm. We revise the existing padding method to cover cases occurring frequently in our method that some components of partition vector are zeros. Experimental results have demonstrated that compared with the state-of-the-art algorithms, the proposed method is efficient in terms of execution time, resource overhead and power consumption for most of the access patterns extracted from applications in image and video processing. As for the testing patterns, the execution time is typically less than one millisecond. And the number of required memory banks is reduced by 59.7% on average, which brings in an average reduction [ ... ]

Undergrad researchers change the world    (07/09/2017)

Undergrad researchers change the world (PDF) Building a better biosensor (PDF) Copyright belongs to University of Alberta Faculty of Engineering.

"Impact of Low-intensity Pulsed Ultrasound on Transcript and Metabolite Abundance in Saccharomyces cerevisae" was accepted by Journal of Proteome Research    (04/08/2017)

"Impact of Low-intensity Pulsed Ultrasound on Transcript and Metabolite Abundance in Saccharomyces cerevisae" was accepted by Journal of Proteome Research Abstract: The interactions of ultrasound with biological materials are exploited for diagnostic, interventional, and therapeutic applications in humans and can improve productivity in industrial-scale generation of organic molecules such as biofuels, vaccines, and antibodies. Accordingly, there is great interest in better understanding the biological eff ects of ultrasound. We studied the impact of low-intensity pulsed ultrasound (LIPUS) on RNA expression and metabolism of S. cerevisiae . Although the transcript expression signature of LIPUS-treated cells does not diff er signifi cantly from that of untreated cells after 5 days, metabolomic profi ling by chemical-isotopic-labeling− liquid-chromatography− mass-spectrometry suggests that LIPUS has an impact on the pathways of pyrimidine, proline, alanine, aspartate, glutamate, and arginine metabolism. Therefore, LIPUS triggers metabolic eff ects beyond reprogramming of the core pathways of carbon metabolism. Further characterization of metabolism will likely be important for elucidation of the biological eff ects of LIPUS.

Happy Canada Day (150 birthday of Canada)    (01/07/2017)

Today is July 1, 2017. It is 150 birthday of Canada. Happy Canada Day!

A US NIH grant awarded    (24/06/2017)

Dr. Jie Chen was a co-PI of a recently awarded NIH grant " Point of care urine metabolomics test to diagnose colorectal cancer and polyps in Nigeria" led by Dr. Kingham at the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, New York. The score of the NIH grant is 19 out 90 (10 is the best while 90 is the worst), ranked second highest among its peers in the competition. His involvement in this multiple team grant is to lead the development of the point-of-care biosensor.

Invited talk at Yale University     (08/06/2017)

On May 8, 2017, Dr. Jie Chen was invited to give a talk  "Design of a Portable Impedance-based Point-of-Care Biosensor" at Yale University. 

"Nanoformulated Water-Soluble Paclitaxel to Enhance Drug Efficacy and Reduce Hemolysis Side Effect" was published    (20/05/2017)

"Nanoformulated Water-Soluble Paclitaxel to Enhance Drug Efficacy and Reduce Hemolysis Side Effect" by Gu W., Chen J., Patra P., Yang X., Gu Q., Wei L., Acker J.P., Kong B. was published in  J. Biomater Appl. 2017.  Abstract: Surgery, chemotherapy, and radiotherapy are the three top cancer treatment modalities. Paclitaxel (PTX) is one of the most widely used chemotherapy drugs. However, its clinical applications have been significantly limited due to: (i) serious hemolysis effect of currently available commercial paclitaxel formulations and (ii) its water insolubility. An easy way to deliver paclitaxel by a new nanocarrier system using pluronic copolymers of P123/F68 and Sorbitan monopalmitate (Span 40) was reported in our previous research article. The characterization of the formulation and analysis of drug release and cellular uptake were also presented. In this article, we reported discoveries of our follow-up in vivo antitumor and in vitro hemolytic study discoveries. The experimental results showed that the nanoformulated PTX achieved much better tumor suppression performance while reducing hemolysis side effects. This newly formulated drug can significantly improve patient outcomes in cancer chemotherapy.

"A Low-Voltage Charge Pump with Improved Pumping Efficiency" was invited to submit in a special issue of IEEE Trans. on Circuits and Systems I    (01/05/2017)

Dear Authors,   Following the acceptance of your paper at International Symposium on Circuits and Systems (ISCAS) 2017 in Baltimore and the established tradition for this Symposium, it has been decided to prepare a follow-up issue in the IEEE Transactions on Circuits and Systems I: Regular Papers (TCAS-I), which is tentatively scheduled for November 2017.   Submission to the special issue is by invitation only and, to this extent, we have selected papers that have demonstrated the highest quality according to the ISCAS 2017 review process.   We are glad to inform you that your contribution (ISCAS 2017 paper ID: 1114) entitled    "A Low-Voltage Charge Pump with Improved Pumping Efficiency"   has been selected by this procedure and we would like to invite you to submit a follow-up manuscript of this paper to the special issue.   The submitted manuscripts must be a significantly more complete version of the ISCAS 2017 submission (with around at least 50% more unpublished technical material).  You must include with your submission both the .pdf of the original ISCAS 2017 paper and a letter explicitly stating the additional contributions of the TCAS-I paper relative to the original ISCAS 2017 paper.    Note that a submission to TCAS-I must be at least 8 pages long and should not exceed 12 pages. Your manuscript needs to be prepared following the authors' guidelines for TCAS-I, which are attached to this email.   [ ... ]

IEEE TBioCAS Associate Editor Certificate of Appreciation (sent on behalf of TBioCAS EiC, Mohamad Sawan)    (19/04/2017)

From: Brooke Johnson
Date: Monday, April 10, 2017 at 9:24 AM
To: Jie Chen
Cc: Brittian Parkinson
Subject: IEEE TBioCAS Associate Editor Certificate of Appreciation (sent on behalf of TBioCAS EiC, Mohamad Sawan) Dear Jie Chen, We appreciate your dedicated service as an Associate Editor for the IEEE Transactions on Biomedical Circuits and Systems. In recognition of your time and efforts, please find a Certificate of Appreciation attached below. If you'd prefer to have a physical copy of this certificate, please respond to this email with your full mailing address. --
Best regards,
Brooke Johnson
Conference Catalysts, LLC

It is a great honour for me to learn a particular piece of history    (15/03/2017)

During my recent trip to 8th IEEE Latin American Symposium on Circuits and System, Argentina 2017, I met my schoolmate (Dr. Tian Zhou) from Fudan University, Shanghai, China; Both Dr. Zhou and I had the same M.Sc. supervisor (Dr. Pushan Tang) in Fudan University. Dr. Zhou informed me that our supervisor’s advisor, Dr. Fushan Wang (王福山), is a student of the Nobel Prize winner in Physics (1932) Dr. Werner Heisenberg, who is a founder of Quantum Mechanism. Dr. Niles Bohr (Nobel Prize 1922) wrote a recommendation letter for Dr. Fusah Wang to Dr. Heisenberg. It a great honor for me to learn this piece of history.  

Jie Chen was invited to give a keynote talk at the IEEE Latin American Symposium on Circuits and Systems    (25/02/2017)

Jie Chen was invited to give a keynote talk "Designing and micro/nano-fabricating portable impedance-based point-of-care biosensors" and a tutorial talk "Engineering of Nanobiotechnological Systems" at 8th IEEE Latin American Symposium on Circuits and Systems / Bariloche, Argentina (Feb. 20-23, 2017)

“Algal Cell Response to Pulsed Waved Stimulation and Its Application to Increase Algal Lipid Production” was published in Scientific Reports.     (12/02/2017)

Generating renewable energy while sequestering CO2 using algae has recently attracted significant research attention, mostly directing towards biological methods such as systems biology, genetic engineering and bio-refining for optimizing algae strains. Other approaches focus on chemical screening to adjust culture conditions or culture media. We report for the first time the physiological changes of algal cells in response to a novel form of mechanical stimulation, or a pulsed wave at the frequency of 1.5 MHz and the duty cycle of 20%. We studied how the pulsed wave can further increase algal lipid production on top of existing biological and chemical methods. Two commonly used algal strains, fresh-water Chlorella vulgaris and seawater Tetraselmis chuii, were selected. We have performed the tests in shake flasks and 1 L spinner-flask bioreactors. Conventional Gravimetric measurements show that up to 20% increase for algal lipid could be achieved after 8 days of stimulation. The total electricity cost needed for the stimulations in a one-liter bioreactor is only one-tenth of a US penny. Gas liquid chromatography shows that the fatty acid composition remains unchanged after pulsed-wave stimulation. Scanning electron microscope results also suggest that pulsed wave stimulation induces shear stress and thus increases algal lipid production. (Full Paper)

A brief autobiography about Dr. Chen was published by Fudan University Alumni Magazine    (13/01/2017)

 A brief autobiography about Dr. Chen was published by Fudan University Alumni Magazine

Paper citation     (17/12/2016)

According to the Google Scholar (;;user=kLA9_-8AAAAJ), my H-index and i10-index are 27 and 59, respectively, as of December 2016.

Invited speaker at IEEE-NIH 2016 Special Topics Conference on Healthcare Innovations and Point-of-Care Technologies    (01/12/2016)

Dr. Jie Chen was invited to give a talk "Desinging and Micro-nano-fabircating Portable Impedance-based Point-of-Care Biosensors" at IEEE-NIH 2016 Special Topics Conference on Healthcare Innovations and Point-of-Care Technologies, Cancun, Mexico, Nov. 11-19 (

"Three-Dimensional Coating of Porous Activated Carbons with Silver Nanoparticles and its Scale-up Design for Plant Disease Management in Greenhouses" was accepted by Journal of Plant Pathology & Microbiology    (10/11/2016)

Abstract: Greenhouse vegetable production is significantly impacted by pathogens that cause diseases to the roots of plants. These diseases are increasingly problematic in hydroponic vegetable production. Standard commercial practices in modern vegetable production facilities reuse the nutrient solution to reduce costs, or use dugout water for greenhouse irrigation in rural areas. This practice of recycling water may introduce or spread pathogens. Once pathogens contaminate water systems, they can spread quickly and cause dramatic losses to yield. Water filters have been used, but do not effectively kill fungi and bacteria. Therefore, better water treatment solutions are urgently needed to manage plant disease, especially for hydroponically grown vegetables. Numerous studies have demonstrated the efficacy of silver ion (Ag+) and silver-based compounds for disinfection of a wide range of harmful microorganisms. In this article, we present a new filter material based on three-dimensional (3D) silver nanoparticle (AgNP)-coated substrates for water treatment. We prepared AgNP-coated active carbon materials and tested their antimicrobial efficacy against phytopathogenic bacterial and fungal spores, such as Pseudomonas sp., and Fusarium sp. We then conducted large-scale tests in a dynamic flow setting and evaluated the effect of the filter on Pythium root rot control of hydroponically grown cucumbers. Results indicated that killing efficiencies of 3D coating were grea [ ... ]

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Dr. Jie Chen