Research news

A new ‘chemical nose’ sniffs out pollutants in the environment

Many pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, freon substitutes, dyes and drugs e.g. antibiotics are pollutants in the environment. The molecular quirk makes it difficult to identify and remove many of these pollutants. The group of scientists is engineering next-gen receptor molecules that flag the presence of specific pesticides and other pollutants and integrate them with smart nano-devices before deploying them directly in the environment.

The collaborating INITIO consortium will address this major issue by first engineering molecules that act as receptors – that recognize specific pollutants – and then integrate them with smart nanostructures to create devices that can be deployed directly in the field to detect and destroy the pollutants. These devices will essentially function as “chemical noses” by sniffing out the pollutants. Once they have been sniffed out and identified, they can be removed and/or destroyed.

 The other groups involved are from the University of Tor Vergata and the University of Salento in Italy, Trinity Collage Dublin, Ireland, the Institute of Chemistry and Biology of Membranes and Nano-objects at the University of Bordeaux, France, and Tallinn University of Technology (Estonia). The two SMEs involved are Interspectrum OU (Estonia) and Eurochem Italia srl (Italy).



More information

Kari Rissanen


Faculty of Mathematics and Science, The Department of Chemistry,