KKP Division of Analytical Science: Webinar on Chemical Sensors and Sensing Devices

By: Florenda S. Valera, Ph.D.
KKP-DAS Vice Chair

The Kapisanang Kimika ng Pilipinas – Division of Analytical Science (KKP-DAS) organized a webinar “Chemical Sensors and Sensing Devices” on August 17, 2022 via Webex. The webinar was the 5th of a series of webinars this year in  celebration of the 85th Anniversary of the Kapisanang Kimika ng Pilipinas (KKP) – Walumpu’t limang taon ng Kagalingan ng Kimikong Pinoy. The Chemistry Department of the University of Santo Tomas co-sponsored the webinar. It was well attended by about 170 participants all over the Philippines. There was good representation from Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao.

Chemical sensors provide a convenient and rapid way to detect analytes in a wide range of applications – environmental samples, agriculture, food safety, and healthcare. They are relatively easy to fabricate using inexpensive materials. There is growing interest in producing sensing devices with improved sensitivity and selectivity. Incorporation of nanomaterials in sensing devices has greatly improved sensing efficiency.

The topic “Carbon-Polymer Composite Systems as Sensor Electrode for Various Electroanalytical Sensing Applications” was presented by Dr. Allan Christopher C. Yago, Associate Professor at the Institute of Chemistry, University of the Philippines-Diliman. The carbon-polymer composite system is a combination of a carbon source (carbon nanotubes, powder graphite, graphene) and a viscous polymer (polydimethylsiloxane, polyvinylpyrrolidone, polycaprolactone). Dr. Yago discussed the (1) preparation of the carbon-polydimethylsiloxane (C-PDMS) composite electrode by direct mixing, placing in a 1.00 mL syringe and putting a Cu wire, (2) activation of the electrode by potentiodynamic cycling (anodization), (3) characterization of the electrode (electrochemical – specific capacitance, EIS, cyclic voltammetry; and chemical – FTIR, Raman, SEM, bulk conductivity), and (4) optimization of conditions for target molecules detection by modifying surface or bulk composition. C-PDMS has been shown to have better electrochemical properties than the conventional glassy carbon electrodes. Carbon nanotube – polydimethylsiloxane (CNT-PDMS) composite electrode can be used to detect various organic and bio-organic molecules like ascorbic acid, dopamine, uric acid, pesticides (chlorpyrifos, fenthion), and methylene blue aqueous dye. Uric acid was detected using a uricase-metal oxide-modified CNT-PDMS biosensor. A Bismuth(III) – modified CNT-PDMS was used for simultaneous detection of inorganic metals Cadmium(II) and Zinc(II). Dr. Yago was able to develop a utility model (Philippines) – Carbon Electrodes for Sensitive Detection of Pesticides and Other Substances. CNT-PDMS can be used as screen-printed electrode format. The composite electrodes can be stored and reused.

The topic “Microfluidic Paper-Based Devices (mPADs) and their Applications in Food Safety and Environmental Monitoring” was presented by Dr. Lori Shayne A. Busa, Associate Professor at the Nueva Vizcaya State University in Bayombong, Nueva Vizcaya. Some of the applications of mPADs are in clinical diagnostics, environmental monitoring, veterinary medicine, bioterrorism, and food and nutrition safety. The advantages of mPADs include the use of inexpensive materials, cost-effective manufacturing processes, point-of-need applications, small amounts of reagents needed, little or no external supporting equipment or power, rapid detection, portable and easy to use device. Dr. Busa developed a simple horseradish peroxidase (HRP) assay system on mPADs  for point-of-need testing in food monitoring. She fabricated mPADs by photolithography using paper substrate (FP41) and employed colorimetric detection for horseradish peroxidase (HRP) after its reaction with a chromogenic substrate such as 3,3’,5,5’-tetramethylbenzidine (TMB). The developed HRP assay system on mPADs was applied in competitive immunoassay for target antigens. Aflatoxin B1 was detected in food samples using competitive assay. Compared to ELISA kit (conventional method), mPAD uses less volume, faster assay time, and cheaper cost per assay.  Dr. Busa was able to develop three mPADs by ink-jet printing using paper substrate (FP41)  and colorimetric detection for diarrhea-causing pathogens like E. coli in water samples. Applications for IP registration for the three devices are being processed.  The first device used paper-based chlorophenol red-β-D-galactopyranoside (CPRG) assay; the second device used biochemical-based (Rose-gal) assay system detection mechanism; and the third device used sandwich immunoassay using biotin and streptavidin. The three devices for E. coli detection compared favorably with UNICEF methodologies; analysis time was shorter, little or no training of personnel, and cost per assay was cheaper.

The topic “Recent Advances and Future Prospects of Sensing Devices” was presented by Dr. Rey Y. Capangpangan, Professor at Mindanao State University-Naawan. Dr. Capangpangan’s research incorporates nanoparticles in paper-based sensors for rapid sensing of analytes. On-site detection of copper ions was achieved by functionalizing silver nanoparticles on paper substrates. A sensor was developed for the determination of cyanide from mining samples by depositing gold nanoparticles on paper substrates and using colorimetric detection.  Remote continuous monitoring of cyanide was achieved using a CYANanobot. A direct immersion process for immobilizing silver nanoparticles was also developed for the determination of cyanide. A paper-based sensor for mercury was developed using thiamine functionalized silver nanoparticles with colorimetric detection; automation of this sensor is in process. Paper sensors for lead, cadmium and nickel were also developed with modifications for gold and silver nanoparticles to increase the selectivity of the sensors towards these target analytes. Aside from environmental samples, Dr. Capangpangan is also working on rapid sensing kits for food spoilage monitoring. Fabrication of paper-based sensors is basically the same as that used in environmental samples.  Plasmonic nanomaterials (gold, silver) will be deposited on paper substrates, ligands and probably aptamers will be attached to improve sensor selectivity. Dr. Capangpangan has patent applications for the finished paper-based sensors. Future perspectives involve collaboration with other research institutions. Project SMIDERM (Smart Multifunctional and Indigenous Dressings sterilized under an Electron beam as novel wound Repair Matrices) is in Phase I (Biomedical device development and characterization). Project TANIM (Transformative Agriculture through Nanotechnology in Mindanao) is intended to address important issues in Agriculture such as promoting sustainable agriculture, climate-resilient and high yield crops, pest control, precision agriculture, and disease-resistant plants.  Project nano-ISDA (Innovative and Sustainable (nanomaterial) Design for Aquaculture) will address fish health, water quality (remediation), nutrient controlled release, biosensors, and toxicity evaluation. As part of the National Center for Sustainable Polymers R & D (NCSP-R&D), Dr. Capangpangan’s team is working on the production of polymeric materials from waste materials and development of polymeric-based sensors from indigenous sources.

KKP Division of Physical Chemistry: Webinar on Current Trends in Physical Chemistry Research

By: Marlon T. Conato., Ph.D.
KKP Treasurer & Webinar Co-Chair

The third in a series of webminar events sponsored by the Kapisanang Kimika ng Pilipinas was conducted last June 15, 2022 and attended by more than 150 attendees. Two speakers gave interesting talks on the applications of computational methods in the design of new compounds and screening of potential drugs and pharmaceuticals.

Dr. Teodoro Laino from the IBM Research Europe in Zurich, Switzerland

The first speaker is Dr. Teodoro Laino from the IBM Research Europe in Zurich, Switzerland. He discussed on the use of artificial intelligence and machine learning towards new materials discovery. It focuses on the use of an internet-based laboratory software (IBM Rxn) that could facilitate chemical synthesis and provided concrete examples on the use of it. The QandA forum discussion followed right after the talk that revolved around the efficiency and limitations regarding the use of the software as well as its accessibility.

Thereafter, the second speaker, Dr. Amitava Roy from the University of Montana, USA delivered his seminar on the applications of computational methods on the screening of candidates as potential pharmaceuticals. It introduced the software, Drugsniffer and demonstrated its use in drug discovery based on binding affinity, among other to target proteins. The talk was followed by the QandA forum, to which further inquiry regarding the software was addressed. Overall, the event offered an excellent venue to introduce the use of computational methods in providing efficient tools that potentially could save experimentalists their valuable time and resources. The event was attended by researchers and students from various universities working in different fields of chemistry as well as molecular biology.

KKP Division of Polymer and Materials Science: Webinar on Functional Materials

By: Fr. Antonio M. Basilio, S.J., Ph.D.
KKP Auditor & Webinar Co-Chair

A quotation from the fifth Chapter of the book, Frontiers of Material Research, indicate the importance of materials science and national development. In page 221 of the book, it is stated, and I quote…

“There is now a clear understanding, particularly among countries in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development[1] (OECD) and the so-called developing countries, that science and technology (S&T) buttressed by innovation (STI) are essential pillars of economic growth, and that advanced materials are a critical one – of these pillars. Sanford L. Moskowitz, in his book Advanced Materials Innovation, Managing Global Technology in the 21st Century,[2] estimates that over three-quarters of all economic growth by 2030 to 2050 will be attributable to the development and application of advanced materials and that investments in materials research (MR) are tied directly to national competitiveness and economic prosperity. He also argues that never has the potential of materials research seemed so important and crucial to human existence as it does for the 21st century.”

As that passage collaborates, we can already see the importance of the researches and knowledge presented to us in this morning’s webinar. Materials research is a critical underpinning to economic growth as well as national competitiveness, wealth and trade, health and well-being, and national defense.

Dr. Jan-Michael Y. Carrillo, whose research on multi scale molecular dynamic simulations of soft matter and polymers allow us to imagine possible research applications based on the behavior of the lipids and other soft matter in various circumstances, like the location of domains in curvature regions. Also how formation of double layers (through simulations) can aid in the design of drug-delivery systems. He showed how the simulation can aid and complement the performance of difficult, time-consuming, and expensive experiments. He likewise introduced us to possibilities of collaboration with Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

Dr. Ted Limpoco’s research on Atomic Force Microscopy allows us to characterize surface structures and polymers. He demonstrated how nano- and micro-structures, processing, interfacial properties would determine properties of various materials. He showed us the possibility of utilizing AFM in characterizing mechanical, thermal, electrical and magnetic properties of systems. The surface characterization can be extended to nanometer resolutions.

Dr. Ted Limpoco also showed examples how AFM was be utilized to probe interfacial conditions that may be connected to macroscopic performance issues of systems.

Dr. Seong-Cheol Kim’s presentation on anionic polyelectrolytes opens possibilities for its biomedical applications. The toxicity of PHMG or polyhexaguanidine disinfectant was dramatically reduced using polyelectrolyte complexation techniques. Dr. Kim mentioned that they used economical and biocompatible polymers like kappa-Carrageenan, biopolymers very much accessible to us. He also showed how copolymerization demonstrated anti-fouling effect and enhanced anti-microbial properties.

Dr. Jordan Madrid’s presentation on the use of radiation processing technologies, such as use of gamma rays, accelerated electrons and X-rays — allows us new possibilities in the development and production of functional materials. These provide opportunities as well for more green processes. Examples of applications of this process into development of polymers with useful properties were also given, many of them have patent-pending applications, and potential to improve our local materials. Opportunities for collaboration are also presented.

Moskowitz, the author I quoted at the beginning of my short closing remarks, indicate the key link is to develop materials research invention and innovation into a robust market technology. Not only do we need to work on innovative ideas but that these ideas may be translated into commercialization applications and technology-transfers.

I suppose this is an area we can look at further. For instance, we can take a look at how the various studies can be applied to packaging studies, biopolymer synthesis, renewable energy to improve performance of various systems, improve likewise their cell compatibility. Radiation technology can be utilized for sustainable, more green production of functional materials, that can also lead us to improvement of properties of local materials. We can also help promote these technologies, and help clarify fears typically associated with the technique.

We thank everyone for the participation and interest. May the talk of our researchers today lead us to imagining works that will benefit our country. Until next time, a blessed day to all of us.

[1] An intergovernmental economic organization with 36 member countries, founded in 1961 to stimulate economic progress and world trade.

[2] See S.L. Moskowitz, 2016, Advanced Materials Innovation: Managing Global Technology in the 21st Century, Wiley, https://www.wiley.com.

KKP Kicks Off 85th Anniversary with Research Ethics Webinar

By: Drexel H. Camacho, Ph.D.
KKP External Vice President & Chair, Webinar

The Kapisanang Kimika ng Pilipinas (The Chemical Society of the Philippines) is celebrating its 85th anniversary with a series of webinars scheduled for the entire year. To kick-off, the Ethics in Research Webinar was held last April 20 and 21, 2022 via Webex with a roster of five esteemed speakers in the forefront of chemical and allied sciences research. The webinar was very well-attended by 150 – 200 participants from all over the country, significantly by undergraduate students interested to incorporate learnings into their research work.

Chemical research contributes a positive impact on the world because of the beneficial discoveries of new substances, materials, and processes that help improve the quality of life. Chemical activity is reflexively connected with worldviews, values, and belief systems that are deeply rooted in society’s historical, cultural, and political framework within which it is conducted (Science, Worldviews and Education, 2009). Continuing progress in science and technology, particularly in chemistry, in a global economy has become intertwined with changes not only in the economic development of countries but also in the social, political, and even cultural structures of societies.

The need for increasing the awareness that chemistry activities, especially on research and innovation, are interwoven with worldviews and value systems is one of the reasons for this webinar on research ethics to be conducted. Awareness and acceptance of research ethics are acknowledged to provide the path for the practice of good science, in this case, good chemistry.

The practice of ethical research, especially when involving human beings as participants, has guiding principles and components, which were discussed by Dr. Angeles Tan-Alora, MD, former dean of the University of Santo Tomas Faculty of Medicine and Surgery. Dr. Tan-Alora emphasized the principles of beneficence, non-maleficence, respect for persons, and justice as the foundational values for scientific soundness and ethical soundness of all research endeavors.

The nature of frontier research is marked by trans- or interdisciplinarity needed to advance innovations. Dr. John Noel Viaña, currently a postdoctoral fellow at the Australian National Centre for the Public Awareness of Science in Canberra, Australia, discussed the elements of responsible innovation of ethical acceptability, sustainability, and societal desirability. He presented the principles of Responsible Innovation as a framework for conducting innovation activities, including biotechnology or biomedical applications, that incorporate ethical considerations from development to deployment.

The seminal principles of 3Rs of Replace, Reduce, and Refine for the ethical conduct of research using animal models were elaborated by Dr.  Daria Manalo, DVM, Chief Science Specialist of the Veterinary Research Department of the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine. As explained by Dr. Manalo, the current attitudes and values on animal rights, by acknowledging their five freedoms, have led to the development of new declarations and guidelines on the use of animals in research that led to the enactment of legislation and regulations, such as the Animal Welfare Act. Techniques and procedures in animal handling that minimize their pain or stress were thus presented, alongside the ethical elements to consider in research protocols.

The importance of bioprospecting, a vital step in pharmaceutical development and production, was highlighted by Dr. Gisela Concepcion, Professor Emeritus of UP Diliman and Academician of the Philippine National Academy of Science and Technology (NAST). Dr. Concepcion contextualized in her lecture about the Convention of Biological Diversity on the ethical considerations of bioprospecting. She then explained the ethical and legal complications related to biodiversity and access to biological resources. Guidelines were discussed in the areas of property rights, recognition for intellectual contribution, access and benefit-sharing, and respect for the autonomy of all actors involved, including indigenous people communities. These are highlighted in the Manila Declaration of 1992 and enfleshed in the EO 247 and its implementing rules and regulations. Access and benefit-sharing legislation is underway in the houses of the Philippine Congress. Dr. Concepcion’s work in the Philippine Mollusk Symbiont International Cooperative Biodiversity Group (PMS-ICBG) illustrated her journey with bioprospecting and its scientific and ethical challenges and procedural standards and requirements.

A major requirement for beneficence in research is the dissemination or sharing of results, usually in the form of publications. This stage of research also is faced with some ethical considerations. Dr. Caesar Saloma, the Editor-in-Chief of the Philippine Journal of Science, Academician of the NAST, and Professor of the National Institute of Physics at UP Diliman, emphasized that the hallmark of science is experimental validation, and that acceptance of new knowledge has to be evidence-based and peer-reviewed. The principles of Professional Ethics in science, therefore, underpin the observance of research ethics, especially in publication. Dr. Saloma extensively discussed the salient or common ethical issues surrounding publication that includes statutory and ethics approval, informed consent, data manipulation, and research fraud, plagiarism, simultaneous submission, duplicate publication, self-citation, consent to reproduce published material, ethics of authorship, conflicts of interest and other questionable research practices. Dr. Saloma also gave an interesting and concerning overview of the Philippines’ state of human capital generation for STEM in terms of Ph.D. faculty profile and Ph.D. degree completion. He outlined the relevant Philippine legislation for adherence in research conduct and highlighted the need for self-regulation on ethical considerations among research entities and scientific organizations.

There is a growing concern and call that chemists need to give more consideration to the ethics of our research, including the reflection on ethical and social issues of chemistry, the compliance to ethical guidelines of the chemical profession, and an active contribution to the ethical discourse. In 2015, the Organization for Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) compiled a list of 140 different codes of ethics and conduct related to the practice of chemistry from across the globe. This led to the crafting of The Hague Ethical Guidelines in which the central message is that ethical codes should promote the peaceful use of chemistry, protection of the environment, and ensuring laboratory safety. These guidelines were quickly endorsed by the IUPAC for immediate promotion, which became the basis for the American Chemical Society in developing the Global Chemists’ Code of Ethics.

The webinar was an opportunity for enrichment received from the knowledge, insights, and experiential learning from the esteemed panel of speakers. The KKP acknowledges their generosity for the gift of their time and sharing of expertise for us in active research to be more aware and conscientious of practicing consistently good science, and good chemistry.