A device implementing nanotechnology and molecular diagnostic techniques will be developed for low-cost and rapid detection of irradiated foods
Irradiations have been exploited as a preservation technique to eliminate indigenous microflora, thereby extending shelf-life of foods. An associated consequence of the process leads to cascade changes in physical, chemical, and biological composition of foods. Differentiation between irradiated and non-irradiated foods remains an unresolved analytical problem, and therefore not fully understood and accepted by all customers. This project is proposed to develop a low-cost and rapid molecular optical device for the detection of irradiated food. Under irradiation, DNA molecules are either denaturised, fragmented, or broken, resulting in apoptosis or viable but non-culturable state of living cells. The proposed device will be used to differentiate intact and damaged states of DNA by following a colorimetric signal that can be simply quantified by the naked eye or by a mobile phone app. Multidisciplinary science about design and fabrication of microfluidics, colorimetric sensing, image analysis, and molecular bioanalysis will be brought in for the implementation of the project. Once successfully developed, the device can be used as a low-cost, rapid, and portable tool to detect irradiated foods aiding in compliance with existing regulations and labelling requirements for integrity and traceability of food irradiation, and to give consumers an opportunity to choose foods.
Start Date: 1 October 2022
Duration: 3 years
How to apply: Applications must be submitted via https://dap.qub.ac.uk/portal/user/u_login.php
Skills/experience required: The successful candidate is expected to have experience in isothermal amplification of DNA, molecular diagnostic techniques, and diagnostic microfluidic devices. In addition, synthesis, characterization, functionalization, and application of plasmonic nanomaterials, and hands-on experience of vibrational spectroscopy and absorption spectroscopy are a plus.
Note: This project is in competition for DfE funding with a number of other projects. A selection process will determine the strongest candidates across the range of projects, who may then be offered funding for their chosen project.