mifSERS Project: Development of a microfluidic portable device for pathogens' rapid SERS detection

In this project we aim to develop and validate an experimental demonstrator for the label-free Surface-Enhanced Raman Scattering (SERS) detection of pathogens within less than 15 minutes.

Thus, we propose a demonstrator, comprising a microfluidic flow-cell coupled to a flow system, and a portable/handheld Raman spectrometer for SERS detection of pathogens immobilized in the flow cell. This will lead to a rapid, ready-to-use system of detection that will provide rapid, high sensitivity and culture-free analysis of real biological samples.

We propose a label-free SERS-based alternative approach for detecting pathogens in a practical manner, by developing an experimental demonstrator that is based on the in situ silver NPs preparation in a microfluidic flow-cell and the handheld Raman spectrometer as detection tool. This innovative methodology is sustained by the research background of the candidate (specialized in vibrational spectroscopic techniques, mainly SERS and its analytical chemistry and biomedical applications), the partner's expertise, and the latest generation equipment. Eventually, the team members will be able to validate the developed detection methodology by using the handheld Raman spectrometer on real biological samples, in laboratory conditions.

The objectives of the project are developing the experimental setup, optimizing and validating the SERS detection methodology by using the developed device and finally, validating the experimental demonstrator and apply for a patent registration. As a final step of the development of the detection system, the analysis time will be reduced to less than 15 min.

The pathogens we will test are most common Gram-negative uropathogens, foodborne pathogens, Gram-positive enterococci, skin pathogens, and pathogenic fungi which cause complications in immunosuppressed patients.

Thus, after project implementation the TRL will reach a level of 4 on the TRL scale.