Lead Research Organisation: University of Cambridge
Department Name: Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology


The ability to measure and characterize the shape and composition of particles is an increasingly important aspect of academic research and industrial product development. For example in the development of a new drug, the ability of the body to digest the active chemicals, has been found to be highly dependent upon the structure of the particles which make up the tablet. In our work we are proposing to develop a new approach to analyse particle properties. We will engineer tiny sensors to investigate how particles considerably smaller than the radius of a strand of hair may be identified, sized and their three dimensional shape characterised. The approach will work by passing a current through our new sensor designs. This current is sensitive to particles which come close to the sensor and we will use this characteristic to i) count the number of particles in the system, ii) gain an estimate of the size and distribution of the particles and iii) ultimately investigate the chemical identity of the particles. The particle properties will be analysed using computer models, which will predict the sensor responses to the particle number, size and shape. The results from these models will be used to compare with our experimental studies, allowing the current we measure to be related to the physical properties of the particle.


10 25 50
Description The target of this programme was the development of generic approaches for the sizing, counting and ultimately identification of particles using electrochemical approaches. The work focused on establishing methods to probe and interface with 'soft matter' type structures with minimal probe-substrate interference. Key developments in the engineering component of this programme include:

The development of new numerical models to explore the effects of particle size and shape on the voltammetric response observed at micro- or nano-electrode geometries. The codes developed were also relevant for more traditional macroelectrode structures. The simulations provided new insights into the influence of mass transfer effects around particles ranging in size from sub micron to millimeter dimensions using rapid scan voltammetry as the electrochemical probe.

The experimental approach was developed further to address the electrochemical detection of particles and droplets in microfluidic environments. In this application individually addressable nanoelectrode and microelectrode structures were constructed and sited within microengineered channel structures. The voltammetric response was employed for particle counting and velocity measurements. The size and shape of the particles within the channel was also experimentally explored voltammetrically.
Exploitation Route The project is essentially academic in content, so is of relevance to the electrochemical sensing and analysis research community
Sectors Chemicals,Education

Description The monitoring, tracking and analysis of particles within liquid environments is both challenging and of significant impact to a broad range of academic disciplines. A variety of optical microscope methods are currently available and can prove to be powerful analysis tools where good access to the sample for irradiation is available. In this programme we have focused on establishing non-invasive analysis techniques, which can monitor particle trajectories and velocities.
First Year Of Impact 2010
Sector Education
Title Lattice Boltzmann Modeling of Electrochemical Reactivity 
Description Lattice Boltzmann models were developed to simulate the chronoamperometric and cyclic voltammetric response of electrode systems in close proximity to solid particles. The models were used to explore the influence of particle size and position in the observed electrolysis behaviour. 
Type Of Material Computer model/algorithm 
Year Produced 2008 
Provided To Others? No  
Description International Conference on Nanoscience and Nanotechnology 
Form Of Engagement Activity Scientific meeting (conference/symposium etc.)
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Participants in your research or patient groups
Results and Impact Conference presentation on the development and application of confluence reactors.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2008