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A 3.5-year PhD studentship in Nanosensors for Food Analysis - focusing on the development of plasmonic metal nanoparticles based sensing techniques


Project Description

Applicants is invited to make an application for a PhD studenship to work with
Prof Nguyen TK Thanh, Fellow of Royal Society of Chemistry, University College London, and Dr Teng Jing Hua, Institute of Materials Research and Engineering, A*STAR, Singapore

Food safety is a pressing issue worldwide. It is directly related to public health. Food analysis has been largely relying on laboratory based methodologies. Advanced chromatography and mass spectrometry techniques, for example, allow for highly sensitive and accurate detection of chemical contaminants, microorganisms, and toxins etc. However, these laboratory based technologies cannot meet the demand of rapid and on-site detection, due to their cost, bulky size and the requirement of sophisticated laboratory conditions.
Nanomaterials exhibit unique physical and chemical properties related to their nanoscale sizes. They are important signal transducing materials in biosensor development. For food analysis, nanosensors have great potential for on-site rapid detection, with the remaining challenges to be overcome, for example, ultrahigh sensitivity requirement for known analytes, identification of unknown analytes, compatibility with various types of food matrix, and on-site implementation etc. This project aims to address these challenges, focusing on the development of plasmonic metal nanoparticles based sensing techniques. The scopes include (1) developing highly sensitive plasmonic nanostructures through top-down fabrication and bottom up synthesis (or the combination of both) for high sensitivity detection in complex matrix (e.g. 1 bacteria cell in 25g food), (2) studying nanoplasmonic enhanced spectroscopy (e.g. Raman and anti-stokes Raman) for small molecular weight analyte identification, (3) developing 2D material enhanced metal sensors, and (4) engineering the sensors for on-site application including using portable optical detectors and printing the metal structures onto low-cost paper format .
Prof Thanh has extensive experience in synthesis, functionalization of nanoparticles (noble metal, e.g. Au, Ag and magnetic nanoparticles).[1,2] Tunable gold nanorods with high monodispersity have been obtained for various sensing applications.[3] Dr Teng Jinghua is a Senior Scientist at IMRE A*STAR, Singapore. He is a well-established scientist in areas of plasmonics [4], metamaterials [5], nano-optics and photonics6. Dr Su Xiaodi (a Senior Scientist at IMRE) has long standing experience in nanosensor development for fundamental research,[7] medical diagnosis, [5,7] and food analysis.
In this project, the student will receive training from Prof Thanh’s lab on bottom up synthesis and from Dr Teng’s lab on top-down fabrication and the plsmonic physics aspect of the project. Prof Thanh) will provide supervision on surface functionalization, controlled nanoassembly, and bioassay development. The analytical problem statements (specific bacteria strains and toxins etc) will directly come from industries that have been in close contact with the Singapore supervisors.

Selected Publications relevant to the proposed project

1. Thanh, N. T. K., Rosenzweig, Z. (2002). Development of an aggregation based immunoassay for anti-protein A using gold nanoparticles. Analytical Chemistry 74, 1624-1628. Impact Factor: 5.9, Citation: 348 by 2/2015
2. Thanh, N. T. K. (Ed.) (2012). Magnetic Nanoparticles: From Fabrication to Clinical Applications. 22 chapters, 616 Pages. Boca Raton, London, New York: CRC Press, Taylor & Francis
3. R. M. Pallares, X. Su, S. H. Lim, Thanh, N. T. K., Fine-Tuning Gold Nanorods Dimensions and Plasmonic Properties Using the Hofmeister Salt Effects. Journal of Material Chemistry C. 2015, 4, 53-61 (Front Cover).
4. Nan Zhang, Yanjun Liu, Jing Yang, Jie Deng, Chan Choy Chum, Minghui Hong, Jinghua Teng, “High Sensitivity Molecule Detection by Plasmonic Nanoantennas with Selective Binding at Electromagnetic Hotspots,” Nanoscale, 6 (3), 1416, 2014
5. Eunice Sok Ping Leong, Yan Jun Liu, Jie Deng, Yih Ting Fong, Nan Zhang, Si Ji Wu and Jing Hua Teng, “Fluid-enabled active free-standing plasmonic metamaterials,” Nanoscale, 6, 11106, 2014
6. Kun Huang, Hong Liu, Francisco J. Garcia-Vidal, Minghui Hong, Boris Lukyanchuk, Jinghua Teng and Cheng-Wei Qiu, “Ultrahigh-Capacity Non-Periodic Photon Sieves Operating in Visible Light,” Nature Communications, 6, 7059, 2015
7. Su, X. D., and Kanjanawarut, R., Control of metal nanoparticles aggregation and dispersion using PNA and PNA-DNA complexes, and its use for colorimetric DNA detection. ACS Nano 2009, 3, 2751–2759.

Timeline (dates & duration that the student is based at the A*STAR RI and the Partner University)
1/10/2017 – 30/09/2018 at UCL
1/10/2018 – 30/09/2020 at A*STAR
1/10/2020 – 31/09/2021 at UCL for writing

Please put in the subject line: UCL-A*STAR studentship

Due to large number of application only shortlisted candidate will be contacted.

Funding Notes

1st class Masters degree (MSci, MChem) in Chemistry, Materials Science, and Biochemistry.

How good is research at University College London in Chemistry?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 62.00

Research output data provided by the Research Excellence Framework (REF)

Click here to see the results for all UK universities

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