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About the Project

Sensor CDT Team Challenge 2017

A cell-free sensor platform for the quantification of arsenic concentrations in drinking water.

Our team was challenged to develop a novel sensor technology utilising recent developments in cell free synthetic biology. It has already been shown that programmable biomolecular components can be used as part of a rapid, low cost detection method of viruses such as Zika.

The team identified an opportunity to use similar methods for the detection of heavy metals, focusing on arsenic concentrations in drinking water.

The contamination of groundwater by arsenic in Bangladesh is the largest poisoning of a population in history, with millions of people exposed.

World Health Organisation, 2000



Hach test







Many countries have arsenic contaminated water supplies, and monitoring them is essential to the health of local people. The National Institute of Health highlighted the need for an affordable, reliable and easy to use test kit capable of accurately measuring arsenic concentrations whilst generating minimum chemical waste


Current solutions are complicated to use, toxic and limited to a qualitative read out, our objective is to develop the prototype of a sensor which could be developed into a device more suited to well monitoring in affected countries.


We gratefully acknowledge the support of our sponsors:   




Upcoming events

Cambridge Bioinformatics Hackathon

Sep 25, 2017

Craik-Marshall Building, Downing Site, Cambridge CB2 3AR

Sensors Day 2017

Oct 20, 2017

Robinson College

Upcoming events

RSS Feed News

Sensor CDT away day

Jun 27, 2017

Students from all three Sensor CDT cohorts traveled to Marston Vale to meet up with the MAS CDT for a joint away day aiming to solve research problems together.

Biomaker Challenge - deadline extended to 21 July

Jun 07, 2017

A four-month challenge to build low-cost sensors and instruments for biology

Sensor Team Challenge 2017 has started

May 14, 2017

By combining their scientific and managerial skills, the third cohort of Sensor CDT students will develop low-cost and open-source cell-free molecular diagnostics for biological and chemical sensor applications.

Winner of CDT Twitter photo competition

May 08, 2017

Second prize in the #CDTinnovation category goes to Oliver Vanderpoorten

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