Document Type


Date of Award

Summer 8-31-2013

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Materials Science and Engineering - (Ph.D.)


Committee for the Interdisciplinary Program in Materials Science and Engineering

First Advisor

Camelia Prodan

Second Advisor

Andrew Hill

Third Advisor

Gordon A. Thomas

Fourth Advisor

Reginald Farrow

Fifth Advisor

Bryan J. Pfister

Sixth Advisor

Alokik Kanwal


The health and vitality of brain tissue is dependent upon the cells' abilities to maintain ionic homeostasis across their plasma membranes. Even slight alterations in intracellular or extracellular can have a devastating effect on excitability and neural vitality. This thesis investigates several concepts related to ion flux. First, it investigates how ion flux affects characterization of brain tissue by dielectric spectroscopy and what can be done to overcome that effect. Second, it investigates how ion flux can be used to describe the state of health of the tissue. Finally, it investigates if pharmacological intervention can attenuate some of the deleterious ion flux seen in different pathologies.

The accumulation of ions in the extracellular fluid affects the use of dielectric spectroscopy to analyze the system. To attenuate this effect, a superfusion system was designed and built to provide fresh extracellular solution to the tissue. Furthermore, dielectric spectroscopy was utilized to analyze the change in conductivity of the extracellular solution as a result of various simulated pathologies. The change in conductivity was directly related to the severity of the insult. Finally, the ability of muopioid receptor activation to attenuate some of the damaging accumulation of extracellular potassium during simulated ischemia. The activation of this receptor proved to significantly modulate the accumulation of this potassium.



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