Atmospheric aerosol measurement using chip-scale optical devices

Atmospheric aerosols are known to be one of the major causes of ill health worldwide, with particular recent attention being paid to Ultrafine Particles (UFPs) of order 100 nm in size due to their ability to traverse the blood-brain barrier, and the placenta during pregnancy. However devices for monitoring such particles are generally bulky and expensive. This project works towards the development of miniaturised devices for UFP detection and analysis, using components that are compatible with handheld or even wearable instruments.

In this project you will investigate the use of optical microcavity devices to detect and analyse aerosols. The devices are expected to allow the detection of particles down to about 30 nm in size, and analysis of particle composition via the electronic polarisability. The goal will be to use these devices to measure the concentration, size and composition of UFP particles. It will involve some apparatus development including the adaptation of existing nanoparticle analysis apparatus, which will be carried out in collaboration with scientists at Oxford HighQ Ltd, a recent spin-out from the two Oxford research groups.

The description above outlines a possible new research project being offered to prospective new postgraduate students.

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