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Functionalised Organic Complexes for rapid Sensing of Industrial Polluters

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - FOC4SIP (Functionalised Organic Complexes for rapid Sensing of Industrial Polluters)

Reporting period: 2015-07-07 to 2017-07-06

The ultimate goal of the project has been to generate and transfer knowledge on the development of new organic molecular complexes for rapid detection of hazardous polluters. The novel materials are combined with integrated photonic and electronic components aiming to achieve rapid and efficient detection. Here, we proposed new approach combining training and career development of prospective researcher, use of new functionalised macromolecules and development of sensor devices by novel micro-fabrication tools. The project contributes to monitoring and detection of hazardous compounds, hence, positive impact on training of young scientists, safety of ambient environment and public health is anticipated.
The overall objective of FOC4SIP project has been to select and characterise sensor/probe macromolecules, then to optimise detection mechanisms, and finally to develop sensing protocols and pilot devices. To achieve this challenging objective via transfer of knowledge, the following key research objectives (RO) have been planned and met:

●RO1 Overall training activities and knowledge transfer.
●RO2 Selection and characterisation of organic molecules for sensing of industrial polluters in liquid.
●RO3 Functionalisation of carbon nanomaterials by organic molecules and further characterisation.
●RO4 Preparation and characterisation of thin films made of sensing molecular complexes.
●RO5 Development of pilot systems for sensing of industrial polluters based on studied materials.
●RO6 Evaluation and optimisation of novel devices involving expertise of Industrial Partner.

To summarise the actions performed in this project, we have substantially contributed to continuous professional development of internationally leading researcher, which provided him strong foundations to progress his career to more senior position (RO1). We have selected and characterised a range of novel organic molecules as sensors (RO2) including dyes for efficient detection carbon nanotubes (RO2-3). We have studied a range of thin film micro-size sensor structures with high sensitivity and fast recovery, e.g. fibre gratings covered by glucose oxidase etc. (RO4,5) Finally, we have tested the devices and sensing mechanisms involving expertise of Industrial Partner (RO6), as well as discussing and disseminating the results with broad research community. In overall, the project has created efficient platform for transfer of knowledge and established strong capability for future studies.
Within the RO1, we have accomplished comprehensive training of Dr Lutsyk as leading researcher with broad inter-sectoral and multidisciplinary knowledge and competence. The extensive range of training and knowledge transfer activities attended and completed by the Fellow provide him strong foundations for writing successful grant proposals, innovative teaching, leading internationally recognised research with high-quality dissemination. The Fellow has been trained in the fast growing field of science allowing to progress his career to senior scientist and substitution lectureship position in leading research centres.
For the RO2, we have selected and characterised a range of organic molecules for sensing of industrial polluters in liquid. Selected materials such as new derivatives of dioxaborine dyes for sensing of amines and ammonia; squarilium and spiroxantene for sensing of mercury (II); and glucose oxidase for glucose sensing were thoroughly characterised. In addition, the RO3 aiming functionalisation of carbon nanomaterials by organic macromolecules in water was accomplished. The carbon nanomaterials like carbon nanotubes are becoming potential industrial pollutants due to streaming growth of nanotechnology. Thus, the objective for our studies is to develop efficient mechanisms for detection of carbon nanotubes in water has been achieved. We have obtained efficient protocols for detection of semiconducting carbon nanotubes that involves amplification of their photoluminescent signal through the formation of macromolecular complexes with tailorable polymethine dyes.
Within the RO4, we have practically accomplished major tasks aiming preparation and characterisation of thin films made of sensing macromolecular complexes. We have studied different techniques of thin film deposition towards obtaining best quality layers and being able to process the tasks of RO5 aiming development of sensor systems based on studied materials. In the RO5, we have focused on alternative systems of micro-size fibre gratings covered by glucose oxidase and melanin thin film structures as glucose and humidity sensors, respectively, with high sensitivity and fast recovery. For the RO6, we have tested the pilot devices and discussed the testing protocols of developed sensing mechanisms. For some mechanisms we found optimisation routes, and for others we agreed that there are need for further R&D studies towards better and more stable performance. In overall, the project helped to create efficient environment for transfer of knowledge, which improved our results and established good platform for future work.

We have outlined strategy and plan for exploitation and dissemination of the results obtained in the project, which have been discussed on the focused group meetings, local seminar, etc. To sum up, at the current stage, the results needs to be advanced to the higher technology readiness level before transferring know-how to industry with appropriate measures to protect intellectual property. Dissemination of the project results has been performed according to the plan through a number of peer-review scientific journals with high impact. In total, 5 journal and a few conference papers were published with Open Access granted. We increased dissemination impact of the project producing articles for general public, attending international conferences, workshops, exhibitions allowing to communicate the project results to scientists, industrial community, and general public.
The project results progressed beyond the state of the art in the area of physical sciences, chemistry, nanotechnology and engineering for selection and characterisation of sensor molecules as well as development and industrial testing of thin-film micro-size pilot sensors based on studied materials. The novelty of obtained results has been justified via dissemination and communication activities. Thus, due to the achieved progress, the research community will gain from the knowledge on novel compounds by understanding of key properties of these materials as well as sensing performance of potential devices based on them. The engineering community will be able to use such materials and mechanisms to fabricate novel real-life sensor systems. Therefore, the society will gain from new pollutants detection methods providing new technologies and knowledge for environmental safety, while industry will gain from new tools in efficient control of the potential hazard.
Potential positive impact of the FOC4SIP project on Dr P. Lutsyk career is achieved via provision a number of complementary scientific competencies reinforcing the Fellow’s professional maturity and independence. The project results have a substantial contribution to open up broad range of new potentially ground-breaking research. Thus, the results has potential in helping to catalyse economic growth and create new high-tech jobs contributing to both European excellence and competitiveness.
Mechanisms of CNT functionalisation with PDs developed in this project