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New methods for detecting chemicals and biological contaminants Return to case studies page

ANFF Victorian node - Dr Tim Davis, CSIRO Materials Science and Engineering
ANFF are developing new ways to detect chemicals and biological contaminants, for applications in environmental monitoring and in biomedicine. Because different chemicals interact with light in different ways, we are investigating methods of using light to detect and identify the different chemicals and biological.

The key issues are discrimination, being able to distinguish between similar chemicals or biologicals, and sensitivity, being able to sense low concentrations. The project at the MCN aims to address this problem by controlling the properties of light at the nanoscale which we hope will lead to better molecule discrimination and sensitivity. In particular, we interact light with metallic nanostructures – these act like antennas for light. The facilities at the MCN are important as we need to fabricate the optical antennas at very small size scales, well below the wavelength of light, and then combine them together to control the light properties and how it interacts with molecules.

Moreover, the technology has applications in other areas such optical communications and improving solar energy conversion.