Next Generation Platinum Hybrid Sensors for the Agri-food and Automotive industries: a solution to maximise output and sustainability

Lead Research Organisation: Swansea University
Department Name: College of Engineering


The project focuses on the fabrication and characterisation of novel sensors for the detection of analytes of interest in the agri-food and automotive sectors. Specifically, hybrid coated screen printed electrodes will be used in order to combine functional coatings with semiconductor and printed devices to achieve high sensitivity and selectivity. Species that can be detected are phosphorous, potassium, calcium, nitrogen, copper and iron; gases such as methane and nitric oxide. These sensors are crucial for the agri-food (precise control and release of nutrients) and automotive (monitoring of emissions of gas pollutants) sectors.

Key aims:

- Develop hybrid smart sensor devices that combines functional coatings with semiconductor and printed devices in a highly innovative approach and offers huge potential benefits in terms of sensitivity, selectivity, miniaturisation and high-volume low-cost manufacturing.
- Develop functional coatings for a range of Smart Electrochemical sensors with industry partner Zimmer and Peacock, that can be employed both in Agri Food, Environmental and Automotive applications.
- Sensors will be developed for analytes including phosphorous, potassium, Calcium, Sodium, Nitrogen, Copper, Iron, methane and nitric oxides.
- Develop working sensors.
- Develop new product ranges for Agri food and Gas sensing markets.
- Develop software App to accompany sensing hardware.

Planned Impact

The CDT will produce 50 graduates with doctoral level knowledge and research skills focussed on the development and manufacture of functional industrial coatings. Key impact areas are:

- The development of new products and processes to address real scientific challenges existing in industry and to transfer this knowledge into partnering companies. The CDT will enable rapid knowledge transfer between academia and industry due to the co-created projects and co-supervision.
- The creation of knowledge sharing network for partner companies created by the environment of the CDT.
- On average 2-3 publications per RE. Publications in high impact factor journals. The scientific scope of the CDT comprises a mixture of interdisciplinary areas and as such a breadth of knowledge can be generated through the CDT. Examples would include Photovoltaic coatings - Journal of Materials Chemistry A (IF 8.867) and Anti-corrosion Coatings - Corrosion Science (IF 5.245), Progress in Organic Coatings (IF 2.903)
- REs will disseminate knowledge at leading conferences e.g. Materials Research Society (MRS), Meetings of the Electrochemical Society, and through trade associations and Institutes representing the coatings sector.
- A bespoke training package on the formulation, function, use, degradation and end of life that will embed the latest research and will be available to industry partners for employees to attend as CPD and for other PGRs demonstrating added value from the CDT environment.

Wealth Creation
- Value added products and processes created through the CDT will generate benefits for Industrial partners and supply chains helping to build a productive nation.
- Employment of graduates into industry will transfer their knowledge and skills into businesses enabling innovation within these companies.
- Swansea University will support potential spin out companies where appropriate through its dedicated EU funded commercialisation project, Agor IP.

Environment and society
- Functionalised surfaces can potentially improve human health through anti-microbial surfaces for health care infrastructure and treatment of water using photocatalytic coatings.
- Functionalised energy generation coatings will contribute towards national strategies regarding clean and secure energy.
- Responsible research and innovation is an overarching theme of the CDT with materials sustainability, ethics, energy and end of life considered throughout the development of new coatings and processes. Thus, REs will be trained to approach all future problems with this mind set.
- Outreach is a critical element of the training programme (for example, a module delivered by the Ri on public engagement) and our REs will have skills that enable the dissemination of their knowledge to wide audiences thus generating interest in science and engineering and the benefits that investments can bring.

- Highly employable doctoral gradates with a holistic knowledge of functional coatings manufacture who can make an immediate impact in industry or academia.
- The REs will have transferable skills that are pertinent across multiple sectors.
- The CDT will develop ethically aware engineers with sustainability embed throughout their training
- The promotion of equality, diversity and inclusivity within our cohorts through CDT and University wide initiatives.
- The development of alumni networks to grow new opportunities for our CDT and provide REs with mentors.


10 25 50

Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
EP/S02252X/1 30/09/2019 30/03/2028
2781997 Studentship EP/S02252X/1 01/01/2023 31/12/2026 Zining Tang