My secondment in Switzerland, P.S: Vote for a better EU

Hello people,

 

It has been a while since my last blog and I will update you about my progress.

 

First of all, I was accepted for an oral presentation in the North American Chemical Residue Workshop (NACRW) (https://nacrw.org/) which will take place in Naples, Florida. In fact, I was among the 5 winners of the Student Scholarship Award and this was another fact proving that our research is very well received by peers. So, I am really excited and looking forward to present my work in front of a specialised audience. Additionally, a conference is a great chance to expand your network and find potentially new colleagues. Last but not least, this will be my first ever overseas journey and thus I eager to live this experience.

 

During the last two weeks, I have been working in the Swiss Center for Electronics and Microtechnology (CSEM). CSEM is a private, non-profit research and technology organisation which is also part of the FoodSmartphone consortium and is located all around Switzerland. In my case, I have been in Landquart department and have worked on wax printing. Wax is another user-friendly material that can be combined to paper and create the so-called “microfluidic paper-based analytical devices”. The interesting part behind wax is that is totally hydrophobic meaning that you cannot mix water with wax. On the other hand, paper can adsorb water-based solutions and also provide liquid flow on its surface due to the “capillary action”. Capillary action or capillarity is the ability of a liquid to flow against gravity in a narrow space such as a thin tube (Or in our case a piece of paper). The paper surface is made of tiny pores creating a network that enables liquid flow. A simplified example of that is a kitchen roll, which we use it to suck any liquid from our kitchen table. You may better understand the capillary phenomenon, in the following youtube video, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9EUfVIon6t8. Combining the wax hydrophobicity with paper capillarity you can create a low cost and portable analytical platform! In our case, we are using a wax printer (a printer which instead of ink uses wax to print) to draw hydrophobic channels in our enzyme paper strips and improve the detection of pesticides… I won’t get into details but it’s very interesting and challenging to work with such simple materials to create a user friendly test.

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Presenting our FoodSmartphone prototype in front of the CSEM colleagues

 

Regarding Landquart, it’s a small town close to Rhein river and part of Graubünden canton. You may not know but Switzerland is a Confederation including 26 cantons (states) which enjoy a high degree of autonomy. The place is peaceful, mostly rainy and full of nature. It is also very close to the Principality of Liechtenstein, the 3rd and 6th smallest country in Europe and the world, respectively. Therefore, I thought that would be fancy to visit such a place. Indeed, it was a nice excursion and i had the chance to walk around Vaduz (the capital of Liechtenstein) and also get a stamp in my passport!

 

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Before I finish my blog, I want to remind to everyone about the EU elections. They are held from 23rd to 26th of May and the EU-citizens have the chance to vote for their representatives. Elections is the chance to make the change that we want  in our future and most importantly it is our duty to participate. In my view, everyone who has the chance to vote need to attend and send a message that Europeans want a democratic, united, humanitarian and progressive Europe!

All the best,

Aris

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