Developing New Chemical Sensors for the Detection of Microplastics within the Environment

Project Description

Plastics are ubiquitous and there is an urgent need to better manage and monitor their life cycle from production to environmental fate. Tools currently available for studying these particles are inadequate to answer a wide range of pressing questions including: What properties make them bioactive? How are they dispersed through the environment? What are their concentrations in the environment?

Supervised by Dr Mark Platt and Dr Eugenie Hunsicker at Loughborough University who developed the first 3D printed nanopore sensor for screening biological and inorganic materials within food and environmental samples, and supported by a network of research excellence on campus within the Changing Environment and Infrastructure Global Challenge we are looking for individuals interested in a multidisciplinary research project developing new technologies and data analysis for biological and environmental applications.

There is increasing awareness of the potential hazards of nano/ micro materials in the environment. This was summarised by the World Health Organisation (WHO) in 2019 “a further assessment of microplastics in the environment and their potential impacts on human health….we urgently need to know more about the health impact of microplastics because they are everywhere – including in our drinking-water,” Dr Maria Neira, Director, Department of Public Health, Environment and Social Determinants of Health, at WHO. Monitoring the presence of particles, be they biological or manmade, within the environment requires a multidisciplinary approach. New analytical technologies are needed to aid the characterisation of plastics quickly regardless of solution properties, salt levels and turbidity.

Click here for links to papers and resources.

The project will develop integrated sensors with rapid data extraction/ analysis that have the resolution of a single nanoparticle, capable of screening large volumes of liquid for a single or billions of particles/ polymers, regardless of the sample source – sea, river, tap, blood or food. The researchers will have access to our manufacturing facilities, sensors, laboratories and computational tools for the work. The project will develop, manufacture and test a resistive pulse sensor combined with embedded topical sensors. The outputs from the sensors will be analysed using a range of open access and bespoke statistical software.

Funding Information

This is a self-funded project only.

Eligibility Requirements

Applicants should have a strong background in chemical sciences, with preference given to applicants with experience and competence in statistical analysis and coding.

2.1 in Chemistry.

To apply for this PhD, please use the following application link: