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School of Physical Sciences

Optical Sensors Research

Optical Sensors (OSL) Group Members: Prof. Colette McDonagh

The Optical Sensors Laboratory, led by Professor Colette McDonagh, develops optical solutions to real-world measurement problems in biomedical sensing and bioprocess monitoring. In recent years, the main focus has been on the development of fluorescence-based sensors. Three sensor categories have been prioritised: 

  • Fluorescence-based sol-gel sensors. These encapsulate analyte-sensitive dye in a porous sol-gel matrix. Recent projects include the development of fluorescence-based oxygen and pH sensors for bioprocess monitoring and optical carbon dioxide sensors for environmental monitoring. Current projects include an optical fibre-based pH sensor for in-vivo monitoring of pH in tissue. 
  • Fluorescence-based immunosensors and nucleic acid sensors for diseases including cancer and meningitis. For these sensors, a number of novel fluorescence enhancement strategies have been developed e.g. ultra-bright silica nanoparticle labels, plasmonic-enhancement platforms and Supercritical Angle Fluorescence (SAF)-based sensor platforms. This work is carried out in the Biomedical Diagnostic Institute (BDI). 
  • Intracellular sensing of oxygen and pH using silica nanoparticles in which are encapsulated analyte-sensitive dyes as in fluorescence-based sol-gel sensors. 

People and projects

Postdoctoral Researchers

Dr. Dorota Wencel:  Project Title: Fluorescence-based sol-gel pH sensor for in-vivo applications

Dr. Robert Nooney:  Project Title: Fluorescent silica nanoparticles for improved bioassays

Dr. Daragh Byrne:  Project Title: Metal enhanced fluorescence (MEF) for enhanced assays for point of care (POC) applications.

Postgraduate Students

Ms. Claire O’Connell:  Project Title: Fluorescent silica nanoparticles for cancer cell detection 

Click here to see the descriptions of the Optical Sensors projects.