Martí-Franquès COFUND Fellowship Programme


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Supervisor name and surname:

Xavier Mateos Ferre

Supervisor email:

Supervisor short biography

Co-supervisor name and surname:

Rosa Maria Solé Cartañá

Co-supervisor email:

Co-supervisor institution:

Universitat Rovira i Virgili

Co-supervisor short biography

PhD programme:

Nanoscience, Materials and Chemical Engineering

Title of the research project:

New opto-microfluidics biosensor for mycotoxins detection in food. Design and development.

Description of the research project:

Mycotoxins are metabolites present in food as natural poison with severe effects to humans and animals health. Nowadays, sensors for mycotoxin analysis rely on the explotation of genetically engineered or synthetic biomimetic recognition with impressive results. However, the complex, expensive and time-consuming procedure of such analyses requires the search of new cost-effective and faster technologies while keeping the detection level and confidence required by the European Commission Regulations, for instance for ochratoxin A it is 2 ng g−1.
The idea to be developed in the present project is to use a mid-infrared (MIR) laser source that is coupled into a low-loss channel waveguide (enhanced light confinement) whose evanescent field (enhanced sensitivity) interacts selectively by resonant absorption with the specific antibody (MAP1 for ochratoxin A) of the mycotoxin flowing in a microfluidic channel with microliter levels of needed samples. The resulting changes in the transmission of the MIR laser source at the output of the channel waveguide are going to be used for sensing.
This novel approach is believed to be a promising tool in toxin screening to guarantee food safety and to minimize potential risks to human and/or animal health.
This work is to be carried out in a multidisciplinary team.

The objectives of the project are:
1-Fabrication, characterization and functionalization of the channel waveguide. The material used will be a crystalline layer of Sb2Te3, highly transparent in the MIR. This material is Silicon-compatible with the aim to be coupled in a Silicon chip for mass production. The micro-structuring of the channel waveguide will be carried out by diamond dicing of the Sb2Te3 sputtered layer.
2-Assembling of the microfluidic channel on top of the channel waveguide with the required dimensions for the injection and biorecognition of the analyte.
3- Finite Element simulations of the propagating laser mode to optimize the channel waveguide dimensions, suitable refractive index contrast and evanescent field distribution, as well as the optimization of the microfluidic channel.
4- Application of the biosensor to specific mycotoxins, for instance ochratoxin A, measuring its presence and concentration levels. Two further strategies to enhance the sensitivity of the detection will be applied. Pre-concentration techniques of the analyte as well as electronic amplification of the signal after the propagation along the channel waveguide.

Gross anual salary:

26443.80 €


Full time

Working hours:

37.5 hours a week

Expected start date:

European union This project has received funding from the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant agreement No. 713679