Sensor technologies & Lab-on-chip technology

Gas Sensors:

Every year, tons of meat products are thrown away since food safety concerns lead to a substantial waste of safe-to-eat food, causing a large waste of resources. The reason for bad meat/fish can come from bacteria or from a high concentration of biogenic amines (e.g. cadaverine), which number rises according to the degradation level. Currently, the expiration date for meat/fish is determined by either poorly performed subjective sensory and/or expensive and time consuming, microbiological counts. Alternatively, cadaverine levels have been demonstrated to be related to the product freshness, but current sensing methods require chromatography (bulky and expensive).

We have demonstrated a high sensitive and selective method for detection of cadaverine by using a cadaverine-specific binder. The method is applied into integrated sensors using different sensing methods (cantilever or plasmonic), and these methods are benchmarked in terms of sensitivity, specificity, miniaturization potential and cost.

The developed sensing technology will allow estimation of expiration dates, enable sales and consumption optimization, improve the quality of consumed meat and finally reduce waste of resources. The overall goal of the project is the design, prototyping and validation of portable meat sensors (laboratory standard), as well as higher standard plasmonic sensing station for further on-site device calibration (transfer standard). As this method has high flexibility, the sensor surface binder can be modified to detect any type of gas, including relevant gases in the industry, for example NOx.
Collaboration: AmiNIC Aps, Danish Crown A/S, Flying Seafood Group and Fraunhofer Institute for Silicon Technology.

Thermal mass flow sensors:

The Air Data System (ADS) used in aircrafts is generally composed by pitot sensors measuring the total pressure, originated from the forward vehicle movement, and the ambient static pressure. The air flow speed, calculated in relation to the speed of sound, is obtained from the difference between the total and ambient static pressures and the vehicle altitude and climbing rate are calculated from the static pressure only. Pitot sensors are widely used in the ADS for civil aviation applications due to its reliability and technological maturity level. However, aeronautical incidents originated from the ice crystal formation inside of the Pitot tube, leaving the Pilots to a spatial disorientation and providing erroneous data for the Flight Controls Computer (FCC), are common. Due to the criticality of this failure event, ice crystal formation is the main Regulatory Authorities concern during the ADS development and certification.

In order to develop a more robust and fault tolerant systems, research is taking place with focus in alternate and viable solutions for the pitot sensors, where the air speed data readings are obtained from novel methods (laser measurements, piezoelectric sensors, etc.)

This project is focused in applying Thermal Mass Flow Sensors (TMFS) in a new air data system for the aeronautical industry. To achieve that goal, it is necessary to identify the atmospheric and physical characteristics of this application, raising the impacts that such items have in state-of-the-art TMFS, which should be adapted to the found characteristics. Additionally, this system shall comply with all requirements imposed by the Certification Aeronautical Authorities and be a safest alternative to the traditional pitot based air data systems.
Collaboration: Federal University of Minas Gerais (Brazil), Embraer A/S and Fraunhofer Institute for Silicon Technology.

Water quality sensors:

Water is the most important natural resource, and its purity and quality monitoring is of great importance for ecosystem management and urban water supply. Due to the dynamic nature of water systems, water properties are in constant change, and sporadic measurement is therefore unprecise, leading to a need for real time measurements. Real time monitoring of water quality is currently done by taking use of bulky and expensive equipment, which hinders its broad use and compromise the water quality of the urban supply. Furthermore, this equipment is only collecting information about the physical-chemical properties of water. This project consists in the development of a novel type of microfluidic sensors, which will address and transmit water organic properties. The final platform will take use of research-based microfluidic sensors for monitoring of organic substances such as antibiotics, pesticides, hormones and steroids. The integrated platform of microfluidic sensors for organic substances detection and sensors for physical-chemical properties will allow a complete evaluation of the water quality.
Collaboration: International Institute of Ecology, Federal University of São Carlos, Feevale University (Brazil), University of Southern Denmark and Copenhagen Nanosystems, besides support from the R20 Schwarzenegger Institute.

Bacterial contaminant sensing for the food industry

In our group we are focused on integration, automation and parallelization of lab-on-chip devices. Industrial food production relies on consumer trust and even minor cases of bacterial contamination can be a major setback for companies as well as endangering the lives of their customers. Existing contamination testing often requires expensive out-of-house analysis of samples, often with significant delays in results. The challenges for automated in-line detection are the complexity of foods and the very low detection limits needed to ensure safety. Working in collaboration with Flensburg University of Applied Sciences we are developing a modular approach to automated bacterial contamination which relies on interchangeable microfluidic modules.

Detection is done using flow cytometry, a powerful technique capable of identifying rare cells in complex mixtures of cells and other particles and importantly able to distinguish between live and dead cells. FC is an optical detection method. The technique though is slow and here we are working to increase throughput by large-scale integration of multiple cytometers on a single chip. The topics for research here are:

- Optimizing integrated optical components on the chip
- Multiplexing data from many parallel inspection points on the chip
- Integrating detectors and illumination sources onto the chip
- Controlling fluid pressure across multiple devices

The complexity of the target foods means pre-processing is required before analysis. One approach is immunomagnetic separation (IMS). This uses functionalized magnetic beads to pick target cells out of a background of other material – the beads can then be manipulated by magnetic fields to separate the cells. We are investigating integration of this technique into out LoC platform and optimizing the bead capture probability.

NanoSYD members working within this field

Roana de Oliveira Hansen, Associate professor
Jacek Fiutowski, Associate professor

Carlos André Bravo Costa, Master student

Dionis Grazhdan, Bachelor student

Lucas de Carvalho Ribeiro, PhD student

NanoSYD members working within this field

James Hoyland, Assistant professor

Shakil Ahmed, PhD student

Casper Kunstmann-Olsen, Postdoc

Funded projects

Lab-on-Chip technique for food quality control in the food and bio industry, INTERREG 4A
Project duration: 1 January 2009 - 31 December 2013
Project partners: University of Southern Denmark/MCI (lead partner), University of Applied Sciences Flensburg, University of Applied Sciences Kiel


Smart Surfaces for Sensors, Fabrikant Mads Clausens Fond

Project Duration: 2017-2018


AmiNIC – MEMS sensors for meat quality assessment, AutomationsBoost

Project Duration: 2017-2019

Project Partners: University of Southern Denmark/MCI and AmiNIC ApS


Water quality sensing platforms for ecological management of urban rivers, Danish Agency for Science, Technology and Innovation / networking.

Project duration: Jan – December 2017

Project Partners: : International Institute of Ecology, Federal University of São Carlos, Feevale University (Brazil), University of Southern Denmark


Plasmonic gas sensors, Fabrikant Mads Clausens Fond

Project Duration: 2016-2017


"Micro-cantilevers for optical sensing of biogenic amines”
Microsystem Technologies, 2017
Authors: Ying Wang, Carlos André Bravo Costa, Elzbieta Karolina Sobolewska, Jacek Fiutowski, Robert Brehm, Jörg Albers, Eric Nebling, Fabian Lofink, Bernhard Wagner, Wolfgang Benecke, Horst-Günter Rubahn and Roana de Oliveira Hansen

“Functionalizing micro-cantilevers for meat degradation measurements”
IEEE proceedings, 2016 Symposium on Design, Test, Integration and Packaging of MEMS and MOEMS, 151-154, 2016
Authors: Ying Wang, Elzbieta Karolina Sobolewska, Jacek Fiutowski, Jörg Albers, Eric Nebling, Bernhard Wagner, Wolfgang Benecke, Horst-Günter Rubahn and Roana de Oliveira Hansen

“On-chip Immunomagnetic Separation of bacteria by in-flow dynamic manipulation of paramagnetic beads”
Applied Physics A 122:955, 2016
Authors: Shakil Ahmed, Jong Wook Noh, James Hoyland, Roana de Oliveira Hansen, Helmut Erdmann and Horst-Günter Rubahn


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