Detecting bacteria in drinking water

Problem Title

Detecting bacteria in drinking water

Scientific Title

Nanoparticle-based Test Strips for Bacteria Detection

Student: 
Jonathan Ackerman
Major(s): 
Chemistry
iCons Concentration: 
Renewable Energy
iCons Class Year: 
Class of 2015
Executive Summary 

Water quality testing is of critical need across the globe. According to the World Health Organization, about 1.1 billion people lack access to safe drinking water and approximately 1.7 million people are killed each year by bacteria-related diseases such as infectious diarrhea and cholera. However, low cost sensors for bacteria contamination have not been produced. In order to fill this critical gap, we are working to develop a nanoparticle based sensor that can produce a color change in the presence of bacteria.

This system offers improvements over the currently used culturing method that requires time and dedicated personnel and equipment for implementation. Our system uses particles that mimic the horseradish peroxidase enzyme's ability to catalyze a colorimetric reaction. Eventually, these sensors could be made into test strips similar to those used to test pH. Once produced, these sensors can be used to independently to test actual water samples, giving people the ability to identify and avoid contaminated water.

Problem Keywords: 
bacteria contamination
water quality
Scientific Keywords: 
colorimetric reaction
horseradish peroxidase
nanoparticles