Tyndall National Institute, UCC recently started work on collaboration of a project to create smart sensing materials that will be used in water purification and clinical diagnostics applications.
Nine teams will collaborate on the EU Hybrid Molecule/Nanocrystal Assemblies for Photonic and Electronic Sensing Applications (HYSENS) program and will develop nanomaterials to identify ions including sodium, potassium and calcium found in great quantities in water and body fluids in a cost-effective and efficient manner.
Dr Daniela Iacopino, who will lead the research program at Tyndall, says that around seven European countries, amounting to about 35% of the total European population, are facing severe water shortages. In order to address this crisis, recycling plants for potable water and use in technologies and industries are being set up, triggering the need for cost-effective and quick tracking and treatment of water pollutants.
Dr Iacopino adds that semiconductors, pharmaceutical and power plant applications need ultrapure water, making it essential to detect pollutants at the ng/L levels. Existing systems are expensive. Laboratory diagnostics is another field that needs rapid and cost- effective analysis to help identify diseases.
The three year research programme will cost around €3.4 million. €3m of this has been allotted as a grant from the EU Commission. Cellix, an Irish instrumentation company, is also collaborating on the HYSENS. Both companies will jointly receive €920,000 from EU for the programme.