Professor Lisa Hall (Department of Chemical Engineering & Biotechnology)
Dr. Ronan Daly, Sebastian Horstmann (Department of Engineering)
Mentor: Dr. Clara Aranda-Jan
Touchscreen technology is ubiquitous in our everyday lives : the screen on a typical smartphone is covered in a grid of electrodes, and when a finger touches the screen the local electric field is disrupted, allowing the phone to recognize where the finger has been placed.
Making use of the same mechanism, the inventors have demonstrated how a typical touchscreen can be used to identify common ionic contaminants in water by dropping liquid samples onto the screen. The sensitivity of the touchscreen sensor is comparable to typical lab-based equipment.
There are very many different applications and scenarios where monitoring water is important, from monitoring agricultural runoff to quality controlling tapwater and measuring industrial contaminants. The researchers want to ensure that they focus their efforts on applications and in countries where they can have the greatest impact, both in the short term and longer-term.
The challenge for the i-Team is to identify applications for the technology in low and middle income countries where the measurement can have the greatest positive impact. This means looking for applications where the measurement can lead to a concrete change that then improves the water quality.
For each application investigated the team will be asked to look at factors such as who would be doing the measurement (for example individuals or specific organisations), what access do they have to touchscreen-based devices, what should the target cost be and what change could the measurement produce. This will help ensure that the next steps in developing the technology are done in a way that make it suitable for real-world adoption.