A real-time system for monitoring oxidative potential of PM

Study level


Vacation research experience scheme

Topic status

We're looking for students to study this topic.


Dr Branka Miljevic
Senior Lecturer
Division / Faculty
Science and Engineering Faculty


Particulate matter (PM), a major component of outdoor and indoor air pollution was recently classified by World Health Organization as carcinogenic to humans. The underlying toxicological mechanisms by which particles induce adverse health effects are still not entirely known. Numerous toxicological studies have demonstrated that particles have the ability to generate free radicals and related reactive oxygen species (ROS), which are able to induce oxidative stress at the sites of deposition (i.e. lungs).

A fluorescence-based profluorescent nitroxide (PFN) molecular probe synthesized at QUT was previously applied as a rapid acellular assay in assessing the oxidative potential of particles. In that assay particulate matter was collected by sampling air through an impinger (i.e. bubbler). Collecting particles in an impinger is a rather simple sampling methodology that allows particles to directly react with the nitroxide probe during sampling and, therefore, eliminates any delays between the sampling and the analysis of PM.

To make this assay more powerful, the next step is to modify impingers to allow fluorescence measurement while sampling (i.e. real-time) in order to reduce the time gap between aerosol sampling and fluorescence measurement and get a better insight into the nature of interaction of the PFN probe with particulate matter.


This project aims

  1. to set up and calibrate a real-time fluorescence measurement system that includes modified impingers, flow-through micro fluorescence cell, peristaltic pump, optical fibers and hand-held spectrometer;
  2. to use the assembled system to monitor fluorescence response of PFN solution while sampling: a) laboratory generated particulate matter coming different sources (candle smoke, cigarette smoke) & b) ozone;
  3. to explore  temperature dependence of fluorescence response.

Skills and experience

Preference will be given to students with a background in chemistry.


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