2018 begins!

Let me start by wishing you all a happy and productive new year! I am delighted to read your posts about the progress you have all made since the beginning of the project, which strengthens my belief that you will all continue to advance the research that we have all embarked on.

As can be seen, I have entered 2018 with a rather optimistic perspective, anticipating new and exciting challenges. The New Year’s Eve, however, was rather calm in this small Swedish town that was appropriately embellished with festive Christmas decorations, a beautiful little Christmas market in the city centre and a small concert interestingly scheduled at 6 PM on the last day of the year. Aside from the concert that lasted one hour with a notoriously long Swedish speech delivered by the city mayor halfway, the weather seemed to have been perfectly suited to that moment as it beautifully started to snow with big and graceful snowflakes. Even though it was short, I wholeheartedly partook in the festivity, and having my girlfriend here and having dinner with her and with my friend made these moments quite memorable.

The last three months of 2017 were a great momentum to advance the project and to obtain a basic platform to observe the SPR signal through the 3D printed optical prism. In addition, the protocols to manufacture the parts and their post-treatment were well-defined in a controllable manner with repeatable results. The last days of the year were very particularly productive as we were able to catch a first glimpse into the performance of SPR signal at different concentrations of water-ethanol. Through this information we can actually have a comparison between the sensitivity of our optical biosensor versus the sensitivity of commercial SPR measurements. However, there are some challenges on the way towards finalizing the design and transforming it into a reliable device, the most important of which are the improvement of the signal quality, image capture and analysis, and adjusting a complementary micro-fluidic. Therefore, I believe 2018 will be mostly devoted to the fine adjustment of details of microfluidic iSPR bio-sensor for smartphones, so that it can ultimately be operated with an average operator.

I will end my blog with a brief account of the trip with my girlfriend and I managed to take to the wonderful city of Stockholm. In spite of the momentary snow on new year’s eve, the first days of January were marked by heavy rain, which is also what we experienced in Stockholm. This is why, after the three-hour bus ride, we decided to visit some of Stockholm’s museums. We were particularly impressed by the Swedish History Museum.

Next, we thought it is best to take advantage of the short Swedish daytime, since it was going to get dark at about 3 PM, and we went on to visit “Gamla Stockholm”, in other words, the oldest part of the city, which was truly delightful. There we visited, and had coffee and cake in one of the oldest Swedish cafes, an activity the Swedes call “Fika”, which is that time of the afternoon spent with a nice cup of coffee and some desert, which may just be one way to compensate for the lack of daytime and the inevitable evening that always seems to begin much too early. We came close to visiting the Nobel museum, but we resolved to visit it next time because of our time constraints. All in all, visiting Stockholm on a very rainy day was still wonderful, even though Stockholm needs more time to be properly explored.

As February is approaching, we are getting prepared for my visit at Aquamarijn Company in the Netherlands to finally meet some of my fellow ESRs, and get my hands on some interesting equipment and training. I hope the next blog will have more interesting stories about my visit to the Netherlands!

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