Optical bacteria sensor

Themes: Life Science & Health, Materials

Proof of principle

A TRL is a measure to indicate the matureness of a developing technology. When an innovative idea is discovered it is often not directly suitable for application. Usually such novel idea is subjected to further experimentation, testing and prototyping before it can be implemented. The image below shows how to read TRL’s to categorise the innovative ideas.

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Around 10% of colorectal surgery results in leakage of colon-fluids into the abdominal cavity, leading to severe infection, sepsis or even death. Regular, easy and reliable post-surgery screening for E. coli enables timely and accurate diagnosis.


This research develops a plug-and-play optical sensor for this. Its waveguide is functionalised with antibodies that capture E. coli when drain fluid from a patient is applied. The captured E. coli absorb evanescent waves, by which their concentration can be detected to monitor the patient's condition.


In 4 years, the sensor should be ready for medical trials. Once completed, the sensor could be modified to be able to screen on other diseases as well.

Prof. Paddy French


Yu Xin MSc

Dr. Gregory Pandraud