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Venkata Praveen Annam1, Timothy O. Mertz1, Krishna Vattipalli2, Vinay Nagaraj3 and Shalini Prasad1

1Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, Wichita State University, Wichita, KS 

2Department of BioEngineering, University of Texas at Dallas, Richardson, TX 

3The Bio-Design Institute, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ 

It is believed that trace pharmaceutical compounds enter the water supply when people ingest drugs, and the excess or metabolite is passed through the body and into the wastewater. These drugs then accumulate in the local water supply because current water treatment techniques do not remove them. These trace pharmaceuticals are believed to have pharmacological effects similar to full dose drugs over a long term of exposure, and their presence in treated drinking water is a potential risk to human health. Current methods of detection for trace pharmaceuticals involving liquid chromatography and mass spectrometry can be time consuming and lack portability. Current standards in water quality monitoring evaluate random set of samples; as a result there is a high probability of false negative in detection. This research presents the design and operation of a small molecule sensor which has the potential for inexpensive manufacture with fast response time, capable of detecting specific trace pharmaceuticals in water samples with high sensitivity (detection below 50 parts per billion).. The purpose of this poster is to explore the design of a sensor platform that leverages the principle of size based small molecule confinement of pharmaceuticals, and employing electrochemical detection to identify the presence of small molecules. Small molecules tested include the antibiotic Erythromycin, and the anti-inflammatory drug Ibuprofen. Detection has been demonstrated from river and drinking water samples. These sensors are capable of providing rapid, portable, inexpensive and highly reliable detection of pharmaceuticals and have important applications in the assessment of water quality.

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