Sensor and biosensor technology is reaching an extraordinary level of sophistication with the aim of encompassing a growing number of applications, including personal and collective security. Chemical monitoring technology is not only already used in industrial, environmental and laboratory applications, but it is starting to be introduced in airports, subways, public buildings and soon will also be likely implemented at home. The new sensors are opto-electronic devices able to recognize odors, gas or explosive patterns, and to identify potentially harmful compounds in air, water or foodstuff. Moreover, the current chemical research promises dramatic improvements in sensitivity, selectivity, response time, and costs. The widespread use of mobile telephone technology and its fusion with information and computing technologies, nowadays realized with the smartphones, allows forecasting of how the future (bio)sensors, aiming to watch over our home and work safety, our health and our environment, will be
Realizing these predictions depends, on a large extent, on enabling R+D aiming
- to develop artificial molecular recognition elements mimicking living organisms;
- to achieve significant amplification of the detection of binding events resulting from molecular recognition;
- to generate sensor microarrays for simultaneous chemical assays, and
- to manufacture hybrid organic-inorganic micro- and nano-sensors for providing miniaturization, accelerated responses and a significant sensitivity increase.
This coordinated project tackles all these aspects from a multidisciplinary perspective based on 20+ years of experience on the subject, through the development of
- new organic molecularly imprinted polymers (MIPs);
- novel techniques focused on photochemical amplification via FRET “cascades”, singlet oxygen transduction, electrochemiluminescence in doped nanoparticles and luminescent conjugated polymers;
- microarrays based on coded microspheres and
- electroluminescent semiconductors functionalized on their surface with molecular luminescent probes.