Nanoparticle-based sensors for water quality monitoring
SuperCol coordinator Dr Peter Zijlstra was granted substantial funding from the Dutch Research Council NWO for a project on particle-based optical sensors for the continuous monitoring of micropollutants in water. Insights obtained from SuperCol will be instrumental for developing the sensors, Zijlstra says.
Contamination with pharmaceuticals and nutrients threatens the quality of surface water and drinking water supplies. In the ‘WaterMonitor’ project, Zijlstra and colleagues from Eindhoven University of Technology work together with companies and research institutes to develop novel sensors for the monitoring of these contaminants. The proposed sensors will contain functionalized nanometer-sized particles whose motion is influenced by the presence of a specific micropollutant, which can then be optically detected. The sensors will be developed and characterized in the lab, integrated into a device, and field-tested.
“As in SuperCol”, Zijlstra explains, “the number and distribution of functional groups are key to a successful sensor. So the insights we obtain from SuperCol will be directly exploited.” He adds that the sensing principles can be generalized to other micropollutants by tuning the biofunctionalization, so that the project will provide a generic platform for continuous monitoring of water quality.
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Image by EtherPhotography, retrieved from WikimediaCommons.