Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


UC research produces novel sensor with improved detection selectivity

A highly sensitive sensor that combines a variety of testing means (electrochemistry, spectroscopy and selective partitioning) into one device has been developed at the University of Cincinnati. It's already been tested in a variety of settings – including testing for components in nuclear waste.

The sensor is unusual in that most sensors only have one or two modes of selectivity, while this sensor has three. In practical terms, that means the UC sensor has three different ways to find and identify a compound of interest. That's important because settings like a nuclear waste storage tank are a jumbled mix of chemical and radioactive wastes. The sensor, however, would have a variety of applications, including testing in other environments and even medical applications.

Research related to this novel sensor will be presented at the American Chemical Society biannual meeting March 27-31 in Anaheim, Calif., in a presentation titled "Using Spectroelectrochemistry to Improve Sensor Selectivity."

That presentation will be made March 28 by William Heineman, distinguished research professor of chemistry at the University of Cincinnati. He is one of six international scientists invited to speak by electrochemistry students involved in planning a conference symposium. Heineman has published more than 400 research articles on the topics of spectroelectrochemistry, electroanalytical chemistry, bioanalytical chemistry and chemical sensors, and has won numerous national and international awards for his work.


Research on this sensor concept began more than a decade ago and has received support from the United States Department of Energy for most of that time. "They wanted a sensor that can be lowered in a tank to make lots of measurements quickly or have the option of leaving it in there to monitor what's going on over months or a year," said Heineman, who added that the ideal sensor is both rugged and very selective and sensitive.

The sensor has, in fact, been tested at the Hanford site, a mostly decommissioned nuclear production complex in Washington state, where it was used to detect one important component of the radioactive and hazardous wastes stored inside the giant tanks there.

The basic design and concept for this monitor could be used in many other environmental or medical settings. These include detection of toxic heavy metals and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons at superfund sites.


The three-way selectivity comes from the use of coatings, electrochemistry, and spectroscopy. The selective coating only allows certain compounds to enter the sensing region. For example, all negatively charged ions might be able to enter the sensor while all positively charged ions are excluded. Next comes the electrochemistry. A potential is applied, and an even smaller group of compounds are electrolyzed. Finally, a very specific wavelength of light is used to detect the actual compound of interest.

The end result is that compounds, even those present in very low concentrations, can be detected and analyzed. This is especially important in medical monitoring and other applications requiring high selectivity and sensitivity.

"Our goal in this research was to demonstrate that the concept works, and that goal has been met as it's now been tested in several ways. Maybe that's why the students at the ACS meeting wanted to hear about it," said UC's Heineman.

M.B. Reilly | EurekAlert!
Further information:

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Novel mechanisms of action discovered for the skin cancer medication Imiquimod
21.10.2016 | Technische Universität München

nachricht Second research flight into zero gravity
21.10.2016 | Universität Zürich

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

Im Focus: New Products - Highlights of COMPAMED 2016

COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.

In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...

Im Focus: Ultra-thin ferroelectric material for next-generation electronics

'Ferroelectric' materials can switch between different states of electrical polarization in response to an external electric field. This flexibility means they show promise for many applications, for example in electronic devices and computer memory. Current ferroelectric materials are highly valued for their thermal and chemical stability and rapid electro-mechanical responses, but creating a material that is scalable down to the tiny sizes needed for technologies like silicon-based semiconductors (Si-based CMOS) has proven challenging.

Now, Hiroshi Funakubo and co-workers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, in collaboration with researchers across Japan, have conducted experiments to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Resolving the mystery of preeclampsia

21.10.2016 | Health and Medicine

Stanford researchers create new special-purpose computer that may someday save us billions

21.10.2016 | Information Technology

From ancient fossils to future cars

21.10.2016 | Materials Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>