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Special Issue "Sensors for Emerging Environmental Markers and Contaminants"

A special issue of Sensors (ISSN 1424-8220). This special issue belongs to the section "Physical Sensors".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 April 2019).

Special Issue Editors

Dr. Giovanna Marrazza
Website
Guest Editor
Department of Chemistry "Ugo Schiff", University of Florence, via della Lastruccia 3, 50019 Sesto Fiorentino, (Fi), Italy
Interests: conducting polymers; nanocomposite materials; electrochemical and optical biosensors; point-of-care testing (POCT); analytical chemistry
Special Issues and Collections in MDPI journals
Dr. Rita Traversi
Website
Guest Editor
Department of Chemistry “Ugo Schiff”, University of Florence, via della Lastruccia, 3, 50019 Sesto Fiorentino (FI), Italy
Interests: development of analytical methods for analysis of inorganic components in environmental, biological, industrial and food matrices; ion chromatography; spectrophotometry and spectrofluorimetry; flow injection and continuous flow analysis; atmospheric aerosol; snow and ice; surface waters; air quality; pollution sources; climate change; paleoclimate
Special Issues and Collections in MDPI journals

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Sensors and biosensors are being widely used in various research fields, ranging from clinical and pharmaceutical applications to industrial, food, and environmental ones. This is due to the many advantages associated with their use, such as analysis robustness, ability of providing real-time data, friendly use and cost effectiveness. They have become competitive with traditional analytical methods, especially for fast screening and continuous monitoring of key analytes in various environments.

In recent years, the rapid evolution of many human activities has caused a significant impact on the environment, with the release of new emerging contaminants, such as products of pharmaceutical and personal care and food industries. In this context, sensor-based assays, able to provide a fast screening of specific chemical compounds (also in low accessibility sites), represent powerful tools in order to highlight the presence of emerging pollutants at levels that can challenge environment sustainability or human health. Moreover, such portable and fast response devices for spotting variations in environmental markers (e.g., greenhouse gases, tracers of marine production or sea ice extent) are particularly relevant also for studies of current climatic changes in remote areas of the globe, as the polar regions, where natural and anthropic processes (as constantly growing industrial emissions all over the continents, biomass burnings) pose serious threat to those vulnerable areas and thus to the global climate.

We would like to invite you to participate by submitting both original research and review articles on novel sensors devoted to the determination of contaminants of emerging concern as well of chemical compounds that can be used to detect environmental changes in a fast way. This Special Issue aims to highlight the novel approaches in this rapidly-developing research area.

Prof. Giovanna Marrazza
Dr. Rita Traversi
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Sensors is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2000 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • sensors
  • affinity biosensors
  • catalytic biosensors
  • wireless sensing devices
  • environmental markers
  • emerging pollutants
  • air quality
  • atmosphere
  • water management
  • climate change
  • greenhouse gases

Published Papers (10 papers)

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Research

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Open AccessArticle
An Open-Resonator Sensor for Measuring the Dielectric Properties of Antarctic Ice
Sensors 2019, 19(9), 2099; https://doi.org/10.3390/s19092099 - 07 May 2019
Cited by 1
Abstract
In this paper, the theory behind the design of a microwave sensor for the accurate measurement of firn complex permittivity is presented. This class of microwave sensors, based on the open-coaxial re-entrant cavity method, is specifically designed to measure, by means of a [...] Read more.
In this paper, the theory behind the design of a microwave sensor for the accurate measurement of firn complex permittivity is presented. This class of microwave sensors, based on the open-coaxial re-entrant cavity method, is specifically designed to measure, by means of a simple and quick procedure, the complex permittivity profile of low loss materials. A calibration procedure is introduced to derive the complex permittivity of the material under measurement (MUM). Two specimens of this class of microwave sensors have been realized to sample the complex permittivity profile of a 106-m long ice core drilled from the Antarctic plateau at Concordia Station. The preliminary results of the on site measurement campaign are reported, showing very good agreement with theoretical models available in the literature. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sensors for Emerging Environmental Markers and Contaminants)
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Open AccessArticle
Corrosion Measurement of the Atmospheric Environment Using Galvanic Cell Sensors
Sensors 2019, 19(2), 331; https://doi.org/10.3390/s19020331 - 15 Jan 2019
Abstract
An atmospheric corrosion monitor (ACM) is an instrument used to track the corrosion status of materials. In this paper, a galvanic cell sensor with a simple structure, flexible parameters, and low cost was proposed for constructing a novel ACM, which consisted of three [...] Read more.
An atmospheric corrosion monitor (ACM) is an instrument used to track the corrosion status of materials. In this paper, a galvanic cell sensor with a simple structure, flexible parameters, and low cost was proposed for constructing a novel ACM, which consisted of three layers: the upper layer was gold, used as the cathode; the lower layer was corroded metal, used as the anode; and the middle layer was epoxy resin, used to separate the cathode and anode. Typically, the anode and epoxy resin were hollowed out, and the hollow parts were filled with electrolyte when it was wet to form a corrosive galvanic cell. Specifically, the corrosion rate was obtained by measuring the short circuit current of the cell. The sensor was made of a printed circuit board (PCB) or flexible printed circuit (FPC) and a metal coupon, which allowed for early control of the electrical parameters (including sensitivity and capacity) and could be combined with various metals. Additionally, the sensor feasibility was studied in water droplet experiments, during which the corrosive current changed with the electrolyte evaporation. The sensor practicability was also verified in a salt spray test, and the electric charge was compared using the thickness loss of bare coupons. A contrast test was also conducted for the corrosivity of different sensors made of aluminum, iron and copper. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sensors for Emerging Environmental Markers and Contaminants)
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Open AccessArticle
SCFSen: A Sensor Node for Regional Soil Carbon Flux Monitoring
Sensors 2018, 18(11), 3986; https://doi.org/10.3390/s18113986 - 16 Nov 2018
Abstract
Estimation of regional soil carbon flux is very important for the study of the global carbon cycle. The spatial heterogeneity of soil respiration prevents the actual status of regional soil carbon flux from being revealed by measurements of only one or a few [...] Read more.
Estimation of regional soil carbon flux is very important for the study of the global carbon cycle. The spatial heterogeneity of soil respiration prevents the actual status of regional soil carbon flux from being revealed by measurements of only one or a few spatial sampling positions, which are usually used by traditional studies for the limitation of measurement instruments, so measuring in many spatial positions is very necessary. However, the existing instruments are expensive and cannot communicate with each other, which prevents them from meeting the requirement of synchronous measurements in multiple positions. Therefore, we designed and implemented an instrument for soil carbon flux measuring based on dynamic chamber method, SCFSen, which can measure soil carbon flux and communicate with each other to construct a sensor network. In its working stage, a SCFSen node measures the concentration of carbon in the chamber with an infrared carbon dioxide sensor for certain times periodically, and then the changing rate of the measurements is calculated, which can be converted to the corresponding value of soil carbon flux in the position during the short period. A wireless sensor network system using SCFSens as soil carbon flux sensing nodes can carry out multi-position measurements synchronously, so as to obtain the spatial heterogeneity of soil respiration. Furthermore, the sustainability of such a wireless sensor network system makes the temporal variability of regional soil carbon flux can also be obtained. So SCFSen makes thorough monitoring and accurate estimation of regional soil carbon flux become more feasible. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sensors for Emerging Environmental Markers and Contaminants)
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Open AccessArticle
On the Performance of an Aerosol Electrometer with Enhanced Detection Limit
Sensors 2018, 18(11), 3889; https://doi.org/10.3390/s18113889 - 12 Nov 2018
Cited by 4
Abstract
An aerosol electrometer with enhanced detection limit was developed for measuring the collected particles electrical current ranging from −50 pA to 50 pA with no range switching necessary. The detection limit was enhanced by suppressing the electric current measurement noise and improving the [...] Read more.
An aerosol electrometer with enhanced detection limit was developed for measuring the collected particles electrical current ranging from −50 pA to 50 pA with no range switching necessary. The detection limit was enhanced by suppressing the electric current measurement noise and improving the detection efficiency. A theoretical model for the aerosol electrometer has been established to investigate the noise effect factors and verified experimentally. The model showed that the noise was a function of ambient temperature, and it was affected by the characteristics of feedback resistor and operational amplifier simultaneously. The Faraday cup structure of the aerosol electrometer was optimized by adopting a newly designed cup-shaped metal filter which increased the surface area of the cup; thus the particle interception efficiency was improved. The aerosol electrometer performance-linearity, noise and the particle detection efficiency, were evaluated experimentally. When compared with TSI-3068B, a 99.4% ( R 2 ) statistical correlation was achieved. The results also showed that the root mean square noise and the peak-to-peak noise were 0.31 fA and 1.55 fA, respectively. The particle detection efficiency was greater than 99.3% when measuring particle diameter larger than 7.0 nm. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sensors for Emerging Environmental Markers and Contaminants)
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Open AccessFeature PaperArticle
New “Smart” Systems for Atmospheric Aerosol and Reactive Gas Sampling in Ambient Air
Sensors 2018, 18(11), 3602; https://doi.org/10.3390/s18113602 - 23 Oct 2018
Cited by 1
Abstract
Nowadays a recognized need for accurate observations of atmospheric aerosols (AEs) and reactive gases (RGs) exists in the framework of regional, national and global near-surface networks based on permanent or mobile measurement stations. In this context, a paramount and not-trivial issue is related [...] Read more.
Nowadays a recognized need for accurate observations of atmospheric aerosols (AEs) and reactive gases (RGs) exists in the framework of regional, national and global near-surface networks based on permanent or mobile measurement stations. In this context, a paramount and not-trivial issue is related to the correct execution of continuous sampling of ambient air and its subsequent distribution to measurement analyzers hosted inside the stations. Sampling artifacts must be minimized for obtaining reliable pictures of ambient air composition. To respond to this need, a suite of novel “smart” and relatively low-cost systems for the continuous sampling of ambient air was developed in the framework of the 2012–2015 I-AMICA Project. These systems were designed to execute AE and RG measurements according with WMO/GAW and ACTRIS recommendations and standard operation procedures. A particular attention was dedicated to the stabilization and control of the sampling flow rates and temperatures. The analysis of one full year of operations at the WMO/GAW regional station of Capo Granitola (GAW ID: CGR, Italy), allowed to conclude that these systems are effective in meeting the technical requirements for correct execution of AE and RG measurements. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sensors for Emerging Environmental Markers and Contaminants)
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Open AccessFeature PaperArticle
A Portable Quantum Cascade Laser Spectrometer for Atmospheric Measurements of Carbon Monoxide
Sensors 2018, 18(7), 2380; https://doi.org/10.3390/s18072380 - 21 Jul 2018
Cited by 7
Abstract
Trace gas concentration measurements in the stratosphere and troposphere are critically required as inputs to constrain climate models. For this purpose, measurement campaigns on stratospheric aircraft and balloons are being carried out all over the world, each one involving sensors which are tailored [...] Read more.
Trace gas concentration measurements in the stratosphere and troposphere are critically required as inputs to constrain climate models. For this purpose, measurement campaigns on stratospheric aircraft and balloons are being carried out all over the world, each one involving sensors which are tailored for the specific gas and environmental conditions. This paper describes an automated, portable, mid-infrared quantum cascade laser spectrometer, for in situ carbon monoxide mixing ratio measurements in the stratosphere and troposphere. The instrument was designed to be versatile, suitable for easy installation on different platforms and capable of operating completely unattended, without the presence of an operator, not only during one flight but for the whole period of a campaign. The spectrometer features a small size (80 × 25 × 41 cm3), light weight (23 kg) and low power consumption (85 W typical), without being pressurized and without the need of calibration on the ground or during in-flight operation. The device was tested in the laboratory and in-field during a research campaign carried out in Nepal in summer 2017, onboard the stratospheric aircraft M55 Geophysica. The instrument worked extremely well, without external maintenance during all flights, proving an in-flight sensitivity of 1–2 ppbV with a time resolution of 1 s. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sensors for Emerging Environmental Markers and Contaminants)
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Open AccessArticle
DNA-Based Sensor for the Detection of an Organophosphorus Pesticide: Profenofos
Sensors 2018, 18(7), 2035; https://doi.org/10.3390/s18072035 - 25 Jun 2018
Cited by 21
Abstract
In this work, we propose an electrochemical DNA aptasensor for the detection of profenofos, an organophosphorus pesticide, based on a competitive format and disposable graphite screen-printed electrodes (GSPEs). A thiol-tethered DNA capture probe, which results to be complementary to the chosen aptamer sequence, [...] Read more.
In this work, we propose an electrochemical DNA aptasensor for the detection of profenofos, an organophosphorus pesticide, based on a competitive format and disposable graphite screen-printed electrodes (GSPEs). A thiol-tethered DNA capture probe, which results to be complementary to the chosen aptamer sequence, was immobilised on gold nanoparticles/polyaniline composite film-modified electrodes (AuNPs/PANI/GSPE). Different profenofos solutions containing a fixed amount of the biotinylated DNA aptamer were dropped onto the realized aptasensors. The hybridisation reaction was measured using a streptavidin-alkaline phosphatase enzyme conjugate, which catalyses the hydrolysis of 1-naphthyl -phosphate. The 1-naphtol enzymatic product was detected by means of differential pulse voltammetry (DPV). The aptasensor showed itself to work as a signal off sensor, according to the competitive format used. A dose response curve was obtained between 0.10 μM and 10 μM with a detection limit of 0.27 μM. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sensors for Emerging Environmental Markers and Contaminants)
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Open AccessArticle
Design and Evaluation of an Aerosol Electrometer with Low Noise and a Wide Dynamic Range
Sensors 2018, 18(5), 1614; https://doi.org/10.3390/s18051614 - 18 May 2018
Cited by 4
Abstract
A low-noise aerosol electrometer with a wide dynamic range has been designed for measuring the total net charge on high concentration aerosol particles within the range of −500 pA to +500 pA. The performance of the aerosol electrometer was evaluated by a series [...] Read more.
A low-noise aerosol electrometer with a wide dynamic range has been designed for measuring the total net charge on high concentration aerosol particles within the range of −500 pA to +500 pA. The performance of the aerosol electrometer was evaluated by a series of experiments to determine linearity, sensitivity and noise. The relative errors were controlled within 5.0%, 1.0% and 0.3% at the range of −40 pA to +40 pA, ±40 pA to ±100 pA, and ±100 pA to ±500 pA respectively. The stability of the designed aerosol electrometer was found to be highly sensitive to temperature variations, but under temperature control, the root mean square noise and the peak-to-peak noise were 1.040 fA and 5.2 fA respectively, which are very close to the calculated theoretical limit of the current noise. The excellent correlation and the advantage of a wide dynamic range have been demonstrated by comparing with the designed aerosol electrometer to a commercial aerosol electrometer. A 99.7% (R2) statistical correlation was obtained; meanwhile, the designed aerosol electrometer operated well even when an overrange phenomenon appeared in the commercial aerosol electrometer. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sensors for Emerging Environmental Markers and Contaminants)
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Open AccessArticle
Low-Cost GRIN-Lens-Based Nephelometric Turbidity Sensing in the Range of 0.1–1000 NTU
Sensors 2018, 18(4), 1115; https://doi.org/10.3390/s18041115 - 06 Apr 2018
Cited by 9
Abstract
Turbidity sensing is very common in the control of drinking water. Furthermore, turbidity measurements are applied in the chemical (e.g., process monitoring), pharmaceutical (e.g., drug discovery), and food industries (e.g., the filtration of wine and beer). The most common measurement technique is nephelometric [...] Read more.
Turbidity sensing is very common in the control of drinking water. Furthermore, turbidity measurements are applied in the chemical (e.g., process monitoring), pharmaceutical (e.g., drug discovery), and food industries (e.g., the filtration of wine and beer). The most common measurement technique is nephelometric turbidimetry. A nephelometer is a device for measuring the amount of scattered light of suspended particles in a liquid by using a light source and a light detector orientated in 90° to each other. Commercially available nephelometers cost usually—depending on the measurable range, reliability, and precision—thousands of euros. In contrast, our new developed GRIN-lens-based nephelometer, called GRINephy, combines low costs with excellent reproducibility and precision, even at very low turbidity levels, which is achieved by its ability to rotate the sample. Thereby, many cuvette positions can be measured, which results in a more precise average value for the turbidity calculated by an algorithm, which also eliminates errors caused by scratches and contaminations on the cuvettes. With our compact and cheap Arduino-based sensor, we are able to measure in the range of 0.1–1000 NTU and confirm the ISO 7027-1:2016 for low turbidity values. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sensors for Emerging Environmental Markers and Contaminants)
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Review

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Open AccessEditor’s ChoiceReview
Tapered Optical Fibre Sensors: Current Trends and Future Perspectives
Sensors 2019, 19(10), 2294; https://doi.org/10.3390/s19102294 - 17 May 2019
Cited by 24
Abstract
The development of reliable, affordable and efficient sensors is a key step in providing tools for efficient monitoring of critical environmental parameters. This review focuses on the use of tapered optical fibres as an environmental sensing platform. Tapered fibres allow access to the [...] Read more.
The development of reliable, affordable and efficient sensors is a key step in providing tools for efficient monitoring of critical environmental parameters. This review focuses on the use of tapered optical fibres as an environmental sensing platform. Tapered fibres allow access to the evanescent wave of the propagating mode, which can be exploited to facilitate chemical sensing by spectroscopic evaluation of the medium surrounding the optical fibre, by measurement of the refractive index of the medium, or by coupling to other waveguides formed of chemically sensitive materials. In addition, the reduced diameter of the tapered section of the optical fibre can offer benefits when measuring physical parameters such as strain and temperature. A review of the basic sensing platforms implemented using tapered optical fibres and their application for development of fibre-optic physical, chemical and bio-sensors is presented. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sensors for Emerging Environmental Markers and Contaminants)
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