Real-time Pollen Detection by Intrinsic Protein Fluorescence

Straker, Jonathon (2020) Real-time Pollen Detection by Intrinsic Protein Fluorescence. [USQ Project]

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This project seeks to provide a theoretical and experimental foundation for the development of a low-cost sensor system that can be easily deployed in a variety of situations to indicate when conditions are conducive to the development of thunderstorm asthma epidemics.

Thunderstorm asthma epidemics are a relatively rare phenomenon that occurs when a thunderstorm deposits large amounts of pollen on a city or other densely populated area. Events of this type usually result in numerous people suffering from acute onset asthmatic symptoms, with many requiring subsequent medical treatment.

To determine the most viable option for the design of the sensor system an extensive literature review was conducted, and the findings evaluated. From this research, it was established that the most suitable approach was to use fluorescent spectroscopy techniques targeting the intrinsic fluorophores present within the pollen grains. The aromatic amino acids tryptophan and tyrosine are of interest due to strong emissions with absorption maxima within the wavelength achievable with UV LED technology and emission maxima within the spectral sensitivity range of silicon photomultipliers. To this end, the project aims to demonstrate the viability of using protein fluorescence for pollen detection.

A prototype sensor was constructed using readily available materials and tested using multiple pollen grains (20-30) with satisfactory results. Additional experimental tests to establish the single-particle sensing characteristics of the sensor was successful with the detection of a single hibiscus pollen grain (20µm) noted.

The results of the experiments showed that ultraviolet light-induced fluorescence targeting tryptophan is a viable means of detecting pollen and could be a suitable technique to use for the development of the pollen sensing system.

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Item Type: USQ Project
Item Status: Live Archive
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Historic - Faculty of Health, Engineering and Sciences - School of Mechanical and Electrical Engineering (1 Jul 2013 - 31 Dec 2021)
Supervisors: Leis, John
Qualification: Bachelor of Engineering (Honours) (Electrical and Electronic)
Date Deposited: 11 Aug 2021 06:32
Last Modified: 26 Jun 2023 04:50

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