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INESC TEC will develop a new method to detect micro-contaminants

INESC TEC will validate a new approach for the detection of micro-contaminants in different application areas, namely water quality control, optimisation of industrial processes, and even medical diagnosis – in real time, and in complex environments.  

17th January 2022

The project dedicated to the development of the new molecular detection platform is called MyTag – universal environmental monitoring devices based on the smart analysis of amplified optical dispersion with molecular imprinted polymers.

More specifically, “the project will enable new methods for early diagnosis, while improving the ability to monitor, understand and protect the environment”, said Pedro Jorge, researcher at INESC TEC’s Centre for Applied Photonics (CAP) and head of the project. Furthermore, “the validation of this concept will foster the development of miniaturised environmental monitoring systems, with the potential to be incorporated into autonomous robotic systems”, he added.

The MyTag concept results from the combination of scattering analysis, real-time models, and artificial intelligence (AI), enhanced with molecular imprinted tags (MIP Tags). This innovative approach will allow customising devices to detect different target molecules, simply changing the MIP Tags, while keeping the entire device properly optimised. This ensures a greater capacity for real-time monitoring of contaminants, since the same device, associated with the appropriate nano MIP, can be used to detect different targets and, therefore, different contaminant molecules.

The project is coordinated by INESC TEC, with partners iLoF – Intelligent on Fiber, a spin-off from the University of Porto established at INESC TEC, and currently incubated at the Faculty of Medicine (FMUP), as well as the Centre for Research in Chemistry of the University of Porto (CIQUP). Experts from Italy (Alessandra Bossi, University of Verona; Nunzio Cennamo, University of Campania, Naples) and France (Olivier Soppera, from the Institut de Science des Matériaux de Mulhouse) also participate in this project. The project starts in January 2022 and ends in December 2024; it is funded by the Foundation for Science and Technology (FCT), with an allocated budget of approximately €244K.

The INESC TEC researcher mentioned in this news piece is associated with UP-FCUP.