The design and characterisation of a fully functional precision device for the real-time, on-site detection of silver nanoparticles

Introduction

3D visualisation of a PCB design (left) and a printed sensor visualisation rendered in Blender (right).
3D visualisation of the digital PCB design (left) and the power PCB board (right).

In the past decade, there has been a considerable increase in nanoparticle applications in various consumer and industrial products. As a result, many researchers are trying to evaluate the dangers and investigate an efficient method to quantitatively detect nanoparticles. While many different methods exist for trace analysis, laboratory techniques such as scanning electron microscopy (SEM) and transmitting electron microscopy (TEM) imaging still remains the most reliable method in quantifying the size of nanoparticles. However, these techniques are a not cheap, nor easy to use. This calls for a fast, on-site screening technique able to better understand silver nanoparticle interactions within our environment prior to further laboratory analysis. Consequently, an emerging technique using electrochemistry to oxidise nanoparticles in situ has gained popularity due to the possibility of on-chip evaluation for point-of-care applications.

Aim

The main aim of this project is to combine the previously acquired results on analogue, digital and power circuits and create a final, portable, precision device for detecting silver nanoparticles which will later be calibrated using printed electrochemical sensors. During this project, the student will learn:

  •  The electrochemical processes occurring in detecting nanoparticles in situ 
  • An introduction into printed sensors for electrochemical applications
  • Steps taken for good PCB layouts encompassing analogue, digital and power circuits
  • Guarding and shielding design for precision picoampere current measurements
  • Debugging of cross talk communication between the different analogue, digital and power circuits

Preferred knowledge

The student in question must be motivated to work in an interdisciplinary group on precision devices for in situ sensing applications. Ideally some previous experience working in a chemistry lab is preferred.

Software

  • Altium PCB design (software) or equivalent (e.g. Eagle Cad Or CAD) 
  • C/ C++ programming 

Hardware

  • General analogue circuit theory for embedded design

Possible starting date & further information

Potential starting date is as soon as possible. Any further details can be acquired by contacting Leroy Grob in person, via email or by phone.