The field of bioanalytical nanotechnology has emerged as the potential of nanomaterials in the measurement of substances has been recognized. It has progressed rapidly in the recent years, and yielded novel analytical systems and methods.
An active area of interest in this field is the development of chemical sensors and biosensors based on nanomaterials. These devices have applied the unique optical and electrical properties of particles with nanometer dimensions to simplify and improve measurement procedures. These innovations have let to small sample quantity requirements, lowreagent consumption, short analysis time and increased analytical sensitivity As a result, measurements which were previously difficult to carry out have been made possible. Likewise, very low concentrations of substances can be detected and quantified.
Chemical sensors and biosensors have been cited as one of the priority field of development in the Philippine Roadmap for Nanotechnology. The potential of these devices in the monitoring of environmental quality, agricultural productivity, food safety and public health was recognized.
The Bioanalytical Nanotechnology (BANT) School was organized to provide the participants with a background knowledge on and basic hands-on experience in bioanalytical nanotechnology that is sufficient for them to initiate research in this area. It also aimed to present a platform for the participants to interact with researchers who are actively involved in research in the field of analytical nanotechnology.
The BANT School was held as part of the celebration of the Quadricentennial Anniversary of the University of Santo Tomas. It embodies the university’s mission of disseminating knowledge and encouraging the search for new knowledge.
Workshop date and venue
The BANT School was held on 31 January to 4 February 2011 at the University of Santo Tomas. The lecture sessions and the practicum sessions took place in the in Rogge Hall and Roque Science Laboratory, respectively, of the Graduate School.
There were thirty-four (34) participants in the BANT School. The participants came mostly from the Luzon area, but there were a number of participants who were from the Mindanao region. A directory of the participants is presented in Table 1.
Eleven (11) of the participants were faculty members and students from universities, such as the Ateneo de Manila University, Caraga State University (Butuan City), University of the Immaculate Conception (Davao City), University of the Philippines Diliman, University of the Philippines Los Baños (Laguna), University of Santo Tomas and Xavier University (Cagayan de Oro City). Thirteen participants were from government agencies, such as the DA – Philippine Center for Postharvest Development and Mechanization, DOST- Industrial Technology Development Institute and DOST – Philippine Council for Industry, Energy and Emerging Technologies Research and Development. There were two participants from the industrial sector, namely; United Laboratories and St. Luke’s Medical Center.
The resource persons for the BANT School were from the Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona, which has an active linkage programme with the University of Santo Tomas. The lecture staff involved faculty members and researchers belonging to the Sensors & Biosensors Group of the Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona:
• Professor Salvador Alegret
• Professor Arben Markoci
• Associate Professor Manel del Valle
• Dr. Alfredo de la Escosura
• Ms. Tamara Laube
• Ms. Susana Liebana
Annex 2 presents a brief biosketch of the resource persons.
Programme of activities
The BANT School featured twelve (12) lectures and four (4) practicum sessions. The lecture sessions were held in the morning, and the practicum sessions took place in the afternoon.
The lectures covered the properties of nanoparticles and their applications in chemical sensors and biosensors. The practicum involved laboratory activities which featured the use of nanomaterials in conjunction with chemical and biochemical reagents for chemical measurement. A compact and portable model of a volatmmetric analyzer was introduced and used in the experiments.
The program of activities in the symposium are presented in Annex 3. Some photographs of the symposium activities are given in Annex 4.
At the start of the school, 75% of the participants described their knowledge about bioanalytical nanotechnology either as poor or fair. At the end of the week, none of the participants felt that their knowledge about the topic as poor or fair. All of the participants assessed their familiarity with the topic from good to excellent. Almost all of them felt that they can put into practice in their home institution what they learned from this short course, particularly as a research area. Annex 5 presents the collated output of the evaluation of the activity.
A highlight of the course is the practicum sessions which were held in the afternoon. The large size of the class (32 participants) posed a difficulty in carrying out the practicum. The resource persons worked out an optimum arrangement by dividing the participants into three to 4 groups, such that each group would have 8 to 10 members. The activities were conducted in such a way that each member in the group will have an opportunity to gain hands-on experience on the techniques being taught.
Based on the responses in the evaluation, the participants greatly appreciated the BANT school and many rated it as excellent. They were unanimous in rating the resource speakers as either very good or excellent. All the participants described the course content, the sequence of the topics and the course materials as good to excellent.