SiW 2017: write up of session on Sensor design & performance

October 24th, 2017

With the theme of “meaningful measurement from the macro to the micro” this first session of the conference on sensor design and performance certainly focused on measurement at the micro end of the spectrum.  The four speakers focused on the innovative application of new technologies for sensing in water.  Two of the presentations focused on new materials in sensor design, offering enhanced performance.   Mark Platt from Loughborough University expounded a new sensing technology for the measurement of metal ions using a nano-porous membranes used in the measurement of copper, lead and mercury.  A new approach to making the more fundamental measurement of pH was presented by Zoe Ayres, from Warwick University, who employed boron doped diamond to sense pH.  This material had the advantage very robust and able to make measurements in complex media such as seawater.  After her enlightening talk Zoe had many follow up meetings from people eager to learn more about the technology.

The application of other technologies for water sensing featured in the remaining two talks of the session.  Stefan Zimmerman discussed to use of flow cytometry, a technique used extensively to measure cells in blood, to count bacteria in water.  During the presentation Stefan introduced a device called BactoSense, launched in January 2017, which offers online, continuous monitoring of the total cell count in water.  This has been tested in extensively in Zurich and Basel and hopes for worldwide dissemination.  The final presentation of the session came from Adam Gilmore to explain how the mapping of the excitation and emission spectra of water samples can detect organic compounds and algae.  In particular the system is very sensitive to petroleum products, polycyclic hydrocarbons and trichloromethane.

Following the four presentations the speakers were invited on to the stage for a question and answer session. This explored barriers to translating innovation from universities in to industry and adoption of new technology in addition to a number of technical questions arising from the presentations.

Richard Luxton, Director at Institute of Bio-sensing Technology, University of the West of England