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Master thesis: Ensuring clean water sources using nanotechnology

One of the cornerstones in our modern society, both from a public health and industrial perspective, is access to clean water. Contaminated water is linked to transmission and spread of several diseases such as cholera and dysentery to name a few. Environmental/industrial toxic chemicals moreover pose a risk to the population, especially seen from a more long-term perspective. In addition, destroying or rendering useless part of a water production system is sometimes enough to paralyze a whole societal system. Hence, monitoring and measuring water quality is crucial to ensure a safe and healthy society.

In recent decades several new prominent applications have been enabled by nanotechnology. Numerous new phenomena and material properties in so called nanomaterials have emerged, which have helped scientists and engineers to develop different schemes and applications proven to be very useful for the industry and societal purposes. For example, by utilizing how visible light interact with surface electrons in nanoscale particles of noble metals, extremely sensitive sensors can be constructed. Reports on such sensors even claim single-molecule sensitivity under the right circumstances. This is the case when exploiting a phenomenon called surface enhanced Raman scattering (SERS), where an inelastic scattering signal from molecules is enhanced greatly in a close vicinity to metallic nanoparticles. Such sensing systems are regarded as prominent future candidates for detection of low concentrations of contaminants in water environments etc.

The extreme sensitivity associated with SERS-based sensing platforms does have some challenges. For instance, the ability to produce reproducible results in order to quantify concentrations of contaminants has been shown cumbersome. However, preliminary results measured in a newly constructed non-conventional SERS-based scheme show promising indications that there are possible ways to improve the reproducibility, which is highly important in order to achieve proper quantification and improved detection limits with SERS based sensing. Therefore, it is of great importance to investigate this concept further and apply it on actual water samples, including samples spiked with relevant contaminants.

The proposed project includes the following tasks

  • Construct a robust handheld sensor based on a non-conventional SERS detection.
  • Experimental investigations of properties such as threshold-sensitivity, reproducibility and applicability to detect contaminants in proper water-based samples.
  • Compare this non-conventional SERS/Raman detection with existing state-of-the-art handheld devices.
  • Identify important contaminants and test selected ones with the technique.
  • Classify water types by applying machine learning techniques on SERS spectra.

The project will be led by both Chalmers University of Technology and Research Institutes of Sweden (RISE). The work will be conducted mainly at Chalmers lab facilities.


  • Martin Wersäll, Wireless Communication, Safety & Transport, RISE
  • Aron Hakonen, Chemical Problem Solving, Materials & Production, RISE

Timur Shegai, Nano and Biophysics, Department of Physics, Chalmers University of Technology

Welcome with your application!
Does this sounds interesting and you would like to know more, please contact:

Martin Wersäll, +46 10 516 58 67, Aron Hakonen, +46 10 516 57 76 or Timur Shegai, +46 31 772 31 23. Last day of application is 30th of September 2020.  Applications will be evaluated continuously, and the start is as agreed.

Om jobbet




Visstidsanställning 3-6 månader

Job type

Student - examensarbete/praktik


Martin Wersäll
+46 10 516 58 67



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