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Leader in Integrated ICT Hardware & Systems

Luiza Wasiewska


Together with sponsor Meta, Tyndall celebrates the winners and finalists of the 2021 Postgraduate Publication of the Year.

Despite the continuous pandemic challenges, our students once again showed outstanding discoveries and results as part of their PhD projects, some even opening major new possibilities in their field.

Dr Fatima Gunning, Head of Graduate Studies at Tyndall, praised the entries, saying: "Year on year our students really showcase their outstanding contributions to Tyndall’s Research Excellence through the Postgraduate Research Publication of Year competition. This time, we noticed new entries from students who started their research during pandemic and lockdowns, which were quite disruptive, but their perseverance, endurance and team support paid off with excellent results! Once again we saw early stage PhD students submitting their exceptional publications, so special awards as Rising Stars for 2nd and 3rd years were also included! Congratulations to all!"


Luiza Wasiewska

Luiza Wasiewska


“Reagent free electrochemical-based detection of silver ions at interdigitated microelectrodes using in-situ pH control”

1. What encouraged you to submit your application to the 2021 Postgraduate Research Publication of the Year? 

Last year I published my first author publication and I was extremely proud of it. When I saw the information about the competition, I thought I would give it a try. I was delighted to see it was recognised by people from outside my research group. I put a lot of work into this and I am happy to get some visibility.
2. What inspired you to choose the subject of your paper? 

My PhD project aimed to detect a foodborne pathogen based on DNA detection. Seeing my first article on silver ions detection may, therefore, be unusual. It comes from the original plan for my project which involved using DNA strands tagged with silver nanoparticles, which would later be oxidised into silver ions and detected. Therefore, I started working in Tyndall on developing a chemical sensor for silver ions detection. At the end of that work, we agreed that the sensitivity I achieved may not be sufficient for DNA detection, but we realised that, with the addition of electrochemical pH control, it would turn out to be a great sensor for detecting silver ions in tap water.
3. What’s your paper about and how did you prepare for it? What role did research excellence play in your approach?

We developed an on-chip electrochemical sensor for the detection of silver ions in tap water using in-situ pH control using interdigitated microelectrodes (IDEs). The pH is one of the crucial parameters in electrochemical detection and commonly needs to be lowered with strong acids for optimal detection. It is, however, not feasible to use such strong acids for point-of-care detection. In this work, an electrochemical pH control was applied for the first time during silver ions detection in tap water. This means there is no need to add acids, as protons produced during water electrolysis at one IDE were sufficient to tailor the pH at a second IDE and facilitate metal detection. The same technique can be used for the detection of other heavy metals and it can have a huge impact on water safety. It was very challenging work for me because of my background in food safety and microbiology, not electrochemistry. My main preparation was collecting and reading all articles on silver ions detection published to date, which also helped me to choose the right approach to excel in my research and publish my work in a renowned journal.
4. The selection for Research Publication of the Year is extremely competitive. What is your advice for those aspiring for nomination next year?

My main advice would be to just APPLY! Whenever you hear that something is competitive, it should encourage you to apply even more. In your application, you should try to stand out as much as possible and describe your research in a very accessible way. Have in mind that the people assessing them may not be familiar with your field, so make sure they understand why your research is so important!
5. What is the single most significant support Tyndall has been able to offer you in achieving your research goals? (Please provide any detail on additional supports that assisted? How has Tyndall enabled you to fulfil your potential in this regard?)

Tyndall provided me with great resources and lab facilities which allowed me to work on high-quality research. In addition, my colleagues helped me a lot in my work. As mentioned, I did not have a background in electrochemistry before my PhD, but I was very lucky to have such specialists around me who were always ready to help in case I needed it.

Research Publication Link

Luiza Wasiewska; Ian Seymour, Bernardo Patella, Rosalinda Inguanta, Catherine M. Burgess, Geraldine Duffy, Alan O'Riordan, “Reagent free electrochemical-based detection of silver ions at interdigitated microelectrodes using in-situ pH control”, Sensors and Actuators B: Chemical (Elsevier), Volume 333, 2021, 129531, ISSN 0925-4005.