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Detection of Pathogens Using Bionanosensors combined with Surface Enhanced Raman Scattering (SERS)


   Department of Pure and Applied Chemistry


About the Project

Rapid detection of bacteria is crucial for the health of the general public as the threat of infectious disease is dramatically increasing. This is a direct result of bacteria developing which are resistant to antimicrobial drugs. Major threats to human health from bacterial infections have led to urgent demands to develop highly efficient strategies for isolating and detecting microorganisms. Particularly in clinical samples, the environment or for food safety. Bacteria are commonly detected using traditional culture techniques. These are followed by microscopy, luminescence, enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) or the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) to allow definitive identification and speciation of the bacteria. These tests generally take over 24h due to the culture step followed by sample preparation and analysis. Lateral flow tests using antibody functionalised gold nanoparticles do exist for some pathogens. However high concentrations of bacteria are needed, and they tend not to perform well with complex sample types. Hence, there is an urgent requirement for the pathogen to be identified quickly and with high confidence levels and a clear need for a point of use (POU) multiplexed sensor. The new bionanosensor could be extended into other areas where there is a requirement for rapid bacterial detection. This approach is beneficial as it is simple enough to be carried out by non-scientists. 

The major research aim of this PhD is to develop a novel, rapid, sensitive and multiplexed optical bionanosensor for the detection of bacteria in different environments. A POU detection strategy will be used for the isolation, concentration and detection of multiple pathogens. And a specific assay using surface enhanced Raman scattering (SERS) and a portable device, with a simple user interface for data interpretation, will aid the detection and identification of specific bacteria. This will be used for sensitive and specific detection of multiple pathogens, without the need for an enrichment culture step. It’s also rapid and compatible with different sample matrices.

Further information:

To apply the following information is required-

1) A cover letter (max 1 page) explaining your interest and fit to the project

2) A CV (maximum three pages).

3) Names and contact details of TWO references (including email addresses).

 Contact Details:


Funding Notes

This funding is for UK students only funded at standard EPSRC rates for 3.5 years. Unfortunately International students are not eligible and need not apply unless they have their own funding. Applicants must have 2.1 or above in a physical sciences or engineering degree.

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