Portable Biosensing Platform Based on Conducting Polymer Decorated Optical Fiber for Bacteria as well as Heavy Metal Sensing in Tap Water

Sutapa Chandra, Rosna Binish, Arvind Dhawangale students of the Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay were given the BIRAC-SRISTI Gandhian Young Technological Innovation Award-2017 for developing a prototype of a Portable Biosensing Platform Based on Conducting Polymer Decorated Optical Fiber for Bacteria as well as Heavy Metal Sensing in Tap Water under guidance of Prof. Soumyo Mukherji.

The presence of water borne bacteria and heavy metals in tap water could be a potential human health risk and may lead to death of young children and adult. To address this issue, a common platform is developed for detection of water contaminants (bacteria and heavy metals) in tap water. The primary sensing mechanism is based on change of optical properties of polyaniline (conducting polymer) due to the binding of water contaminants on the polyaniline coated fiberoptic sensor probe. The experimental setup consists of a broadband light source, light focusing optics and fiber-optic spectrometer. Depending on the analyte (heavy metals, bacteria etc.), polyaniline coated optical fibers were functionalized with different receptors. Thus, by changing the surface chemistry of the polyaniline coated sensor probe, it can be made specific towards detection of different analyte. As a proof of concept, it is demonstrated that as low as 20- 60 cfu/ml concentrations of E. coli and 1 picomolar concentration of lead ions are detectable using this system.

sutapa chandraThe deliverable will be a marketable prototype of an optical fiber sensor integrated with microcontroller unit. The novelty lies in the alteration of optical properties of polyaniline and its utilisation for water contaminants sensing. The detection limit aimed by this technology will surpass the conventional methods available for detecting these analytes. The sensitivity and specificity available by this technology ensures its applicability in water industry.

For this innovation Dr. R A Mashelkar, Chairperson, Research Advisory Committee, SRISTI and NIF, honored Sutapa Chandra, Department of Bioengineering, Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay, with the prestigious BIRAC-SRISTI Gandhian Young Technological Innovation (GYTI) Award 2017 at Rashtrapati Bhavan on March 5.

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