Metal Ion Sensors for Medicinal and Environmental Applications


Metal cations like Zn(II), Cu and K(I) play a raft of important signalling roles in our bodies; others such as Hg(II), Cd(II) and Pb(II) are toxic pollutants in the environment.


Professor Peter Rutledge, Honorary Professor John Canning

Research Location

School of Chemistry

Program Type



We are developing new sensors to selectively image these ions inside cells (as tools for diagnosing diseases like diabetes and Alzheimers disease) and in the environment. Now we want to increase the responsiveness of our sensors by:

(i) attaching them to optical fibres, and
(ii) incorporating fluorescent nanoparticles.

Additional Information

Working on this project, you will use organic synthesis, spectroscopic techniques including 1H and 13C NMR, IR and mass spectroscopy and chromatography. You will also have the opportunity to develop further skills in coordination chemistry, crystallography, nanotechnology and photonics. Prior experience in one or more of these areas would be an advantage but is not required.Laboratory costs (chemicals, consumables, spectroscopy) will be covered through existing funding in the group, however direct funding for fees or scholarships is not currently available from within the group. Australian and New Zealand citizens should apply for an Australian Postgraduate Award, International Students should apply for scholarship funding through the International Office and Science Faculty schemes.

HDR Inherent Requirements:

In addition to the academic requirements set out in the Science Postgraduate Handbook, you may be required to satisfy a number of inherent requirements to complete this degree. Example of inherent requirement may include:

- Confidential disclosure and registration of a disability that may hinder your performance in your degree;
- Confidential disclosure of a pre-existing or current medical condition that may hinder your performance in your degree (e.g. heart disease, pace-maker, significant immune suppression, diabetes, vertigo, etc.);
- Ability to perform independently and/or with minimal supervision;
- Ability to undertake certain physical tasks (e.g. heavy lifting);
- Ability to undertake observatory, sensory and communication tasks;
- Ability to spend time at remote sites (e.g. One Tree Island, Narrabri and Camden);
- Ability to work in confined spaces or at heights;
- Ability to operate heavy machinery (e.g. farming equipment);
- Hold or acquire an Australian driver’s licence;
- Hold a current scuba diving license;
- Hold a current Working with Children Check;
- Meet initial and ongoing immunisation requirements (e.g. Q-Fever, Vaccinia virus, Hepatitis, etc.)

You must consult with your nominated supervisor regarding any identified inherent requirements before completing your application.

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fluorescence, macrocycles, molecular probes, sensors, synthesis, click reaction

Opportunity ID

The opportunity ID for this research opportunity is: 1550

Other opportunities with Professor Peter Rutledge

Other opportunities with Honorary Professor John Canning