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 Eilidh Johnston
Project Title: Photonics in Life and Health
2nd Year
Fraunhofer/University of Strathclyde
Supervisors: Anne-Marie Haughey and Nicolas Laurand
The Project
The overall aim of this project is
to investigate optical methods for detecting the growth of bacteria. From this the susceptibility
of multiple antibiotics can be determined to provide an informed diagnostic to a GP within a 30-minute timeframe. The main approach being looked at currently is using a second order distributed feedback laser (DFB) with an organic gain layer as a refractive index sensor. This sensor responds to growing bacteria through a shift in output emission wavelength because the growing bacteria increases the effective refractive index of the DFB.
This work could hugely impact the global issue of antimicrobial resistance (AMR).
Proof of concept work has demonstrated the ability of the organic DFB to detect the growth
of bacteria alongside other features such as a low lasing threshold. Due to the time constraint element of the work, there are various engineering challenges to overcome. Currently, the system is heated to provide optimal growing conditions for the bacteria, however this appears to introduce a blue-shifting emission to the system (growing bacteria should exhibit a red-shift). Work is being undertaken to change the heating system while encapsulating the DFB/sample to provide a more ‘lab-on-a-chip’ style approach
and eradicate the systematic blue- shifting results.
This work could hugely impact
the global issue of antimicrobial resistance (AMR). AMR is when microbes adapt to the point where current drugs no longer work against them and therefore cannot treat certain infections. This work aims to help towards the incorrect/ unnecessary prescription of antibiotics for suspected urinary tract infections (one of the most common infections which also suffers from slow diagnostics - where results can take 3 days).
By providing the most effective antibiotics against a specific infection to GPs within 30 minutes, this research could dramatically reduce the over prescription of antibiotics, thus helping to reduce AMR.
The CDT Programme
The programme facilitates a
varied experience with the chance to broaden your skillset and knowledge-base. Taught classes, while challenging, are interesting and allow familiarity with a subject prior to experimental work. Business classes introduce a variety that would often not be available
in such scientific based work,
which will no doubt prove hugely beneficial in any future role.
Working in industry provides an invaluable insight into the working practices of a company, while enabling you to access a variety
of equipment and gain knowledge from those with experience in the field. It also provides inspiration through the benefit of seeing the wide-ranging selection of projects being undertaken by the company. The balance between my industrial and academic supervisors is great, allowing everyone to contribute ideas from different perspectives to collaboratively solve a problem.
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