Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Electrical Engineering (MSEE)


Electrical Engineering

First Advisor

Dr Mahmoud AI Ahmad

Second Advisor

Dr. Falah Awwad

Third Advisor

Prof. Mona Zaghoul


Electrical properties of living cells have been proven to play a significant role in understanding and characterizing the different biological activities of the cell. The objective of this work is to develop an electrical based technique for determining and estimating the number of microalgae cells in a suspension without the need for any sample treatments or pre-processing.

The proposed technique is based on the direct use of electrical capacitive model. The basic premise behind this idea is the electrical polarization of microalgae particles that get charged due to the application of an electric field. This wouldn’t cause any distortion or dissolving/diffusion of the content of the cells inside the medium. The electrical measurements of the capacitance – voltage concept is employed to determine microalgae cells counts. The microalgae cells are considered as dopants embedded inside a relevant medium. The cells count is then estimated by subtracting the intrinsic impurities of the medium from the effective ensemble impurities of the suspension inside a defined volume. Three strains of microalgae, namely Nannochloropsis, tetra, and Scenedesmus were cultivated and examined under the proposed methodology. For validation, samples with unknown cell counts were quantified using the proposed method and compared to other techniques used for validation.

Results of the study revealed that cell count determined with the proposed electrical based methodology was done within few minutes, which is significantly shorter than all other reported techniques. The enumeration of microalgae cells count is important for their growth optimization. A real time, rapid and efficient technique is needed for such purpose. The proposed method provided a better combination of high sensitivity, quick response, few minutes, low cost, high throughput, and ease of use.

The outcome of this work allows the development of a rapid technique for the determination of cells count of microalgae or it could be further extended to determine the cell count of other types of suspended cells of comparable size. In addition, the proposed methodology could be upgraded to be applied in-situ with a feedback loop that could allow for continuous monitoring of the growth conditions and rapid determination of microalgae cells count.

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Engineering Commons