Leyre Gomez received her Chemical Engineering MSc from the University of Zaragoza (Spain) in 2010, after having spent 5 months at the Technical University of Denmark (Denmark). Then, she completed her studies with a MSc about Nanostructured Materials for Nanotechnology Applications at the University of Zaragoza (Spain). In 2014, she graduated as a Chemical Engineering PhD (Cum Laude) from the same University thanks to a FPI grant from the Science Ministry of Spain, under the supervision of Prof. Jesus Santamaria and Dr. Manuel Arruebo. During the doctoral years at the Nanoscience Institute of Aragon (INA), she became an expert on the synthesis and characterization of laser-responsive inorganic nanoparticles for photocatalysis and medical applications such as drug delivery systems and phototherapy for cancer treatments, as well as their scale up production by microreactors working in a continuous fashion. During that time, Dr. Leyre Gomez spent 5 months as foreign researcher at the University of Southern California (USA) at the Electrical Engineering department under the supervision of Prof. Stephen B. Cronin. She received the Best Thesis Award 2014-2015 from the Chemical Engineering Department of the University of Zaragoza.
Afterwards, in 2015, Dr. Gomez moved to the University of Amsterdam (the Netherlands) where she was appointed postdoctoral researcher for 4 years at the Institute of Physics in the group of Prof. Tom Gregorkiewicz. During this period, she worked on the synthesis, optimization, and chemical and optical characterization of perovskite nanocrystals for photovoltaic applications.
Since September 2019, Dr. Leyre Gomez is a Marie-Curie postdoctoral researcher at the Catalan Institute of Nanoscience and Nanotechnology (ICN2). Her current interests are optical sensors and nanostructured porous materials.
To date, Dr. Leyre Gomez has published 30 scientific articles of high impact and holds a h-index=20. She also serves as reviewer in different peer-reviewed journals.
Development of photonic sensors using Metal-Organic Frameworks (MOFs) for environmental monitoring
Environmental monitoring has experienced a significant progress in the last decades and, nowadays, we account with extremely accurate and sensitive analytical procedures (i.e. chromatographic techniques). However, these methods are limited to centralized laboratories, require expensive instrumentation, are time consuming, and need of trained personnel. On-site and real-time evaluation of contaminants is vital to manage environmental degradation and to protect the human health of the consequences. The aim of this project is to combine the knowledge of two important topics, MOFs (Metal Organic Frameworks) and photonic sensors, to open a new research line on the design of easy-to-use highly sensitive sensors for in-situ and real-time monitoring of pollutants (air and water).
MOFs, metal ions/clusters connected through multifunctional organic linkers forming tuneable cavities, are a promising porous material for the selective adsorption of hazardous substances. They have recently been used for the successful detection of environmental contaminants including heavy metals, organic compounds, and toxic gases as luminescence, electrochemical, colorimetric, and field-effect transistors. Prof. Daniel Maspoch leads the NanoUp group which has a vast experience on MOFs.
Optical sensors operating by interferometric waveguide arrangements are among the most sensitive devices which is essential to avoid amplification and pre-concentration steps. In this type of detectors, when a selective molecule is recognized by the receptor layer, it is immobilized onto the waveguide surface inducing a local shift of the refractive index. This change can be detected, as it affects the properties of the propagating light through the sensor, and subsequently correlated with the analyte concentration. The group headed by Prof. Laura Lechuga has previously developed a highly sensitive biosensor device based on this principle, a bimodal waveguide (BiMW) interferometer with a limit of detection close to 1 x 10-8 refractive index units (RIU). This optical sensor uses a monochromatic visible light coupled into the photonic chip trough a single mode input waveguide (fundamental mode) which is then split between two guided modes (fundamental and the first order mode) with the same polarization trough an interface with a step junction in the waveguide geometry. It is a simple design easy to manufacture and moreover, they support miniaturization and are compatible with microfluidics.
By combining the expertise of MOFs and BiMW, we will develop a new generation of optical sensors (robust, stable, easy-to-use, sensitive, real-time and in-situ monitoring) for environmental control and pollutants detection (heavy metals, pesticides, drugs, N2O, etc.).