Sourav is a multidisciplinary engineering scientist with interests in health and energy. After being awarded an undergraduate degree in mechanical engineering (2001) and working in the heavy engineering, energy and utilities industry sectors in India and the UK, he undertook a postgraduate study in biomedical engineering at the University of Oxford (2006-07). During this time, he developed a keen interest in acoustic or electromechanical sensors for biomedical application, which inspired him to undertake a PhD on this topic from the University of Cambridge (2007-11). His PhD research led to the development of the first nonlinear acoustic technique for biosensing. The novel method was selected for exploration in breath-based influenza test development as part of an EU FP7 project at Cambridge, on which Sourav was employed as a postdoctoral research associate. The method led to two international patent applications, and a nonlinear network analyzer instrument implementing the method was adopted for research by Stanford University and some EU and UK partner universities.
In his academic position at Loughborough University, Sourav has built a multidisciplinary research team. Together with his academic, industry and clinical partners from the UK and EU, he has engaged in an EU FP7 and two EPSRC-funded projects as a work package leader. The research in these projects has contributed to further development of the nonlinear acoustic technology for application in rapid and reliable detection of virus, bacteria and antimicrobial resistance. His team has also successfully developed a novel fixed frequency drive acoustic algorithm and analytical models that have substantially improved the simplicity and data acquisition speed (sub-millisecond) of acoustic sensors. These methods have simplified system integration of the sensors and real-time monitoring of complex viscoelastic materials like biological cells and polymers, thereby expanding the application of acoustic sensors in healthcare diagnostics, biomanufacturing, and energy applications.
Recently, his multidisciplinary team has invented a novel Aluminium electrolyte and are now exploring its potential for the first mining-free fully recyclable battery, allowing sustainable electrification. The electrochemical cell prototype integrates the acoustic sensor developed by the team for real-time electrolyte monitoring at the electrode interface.
Sourav has also recently led the application of aptamers and peptides for single-step fluorescence detection of bacteria, antimicrobial resistance and virus. He has engaged key industry and clinical players in infection management through multiple projects funded by the National Biofilm Innovation Centre and the Loughborough University Enterprise Office and is currently conducting clinical trials for a rapid saliva-based coronavirus test and a swab-based wound infection test.
Sourav has supervised 5 PhD graduates and 5 postdoctoral Research Associates and has led a university-funded Doctoral Training Centre in ‘Fighting Infectious Disease’ that has trained 5 PhD researchers, of whom 4 have now graduated.
- PhD in Acoustic Biosensors, University of Cambridge, UK (2011)
- MSc in Biomedical Engineering, University of Oxford, UK (2007)
- BEng in Mechanical Engineering, Indian Institute of Engineering Science and Technology (IIEST), India (2001)
- Fellow of Higher Education Academy of UK (2016)
- Overseas Research Scholarship from the Secretary of State for Education and Science, UK (2007)
- Rajiv Gandhi (UK) Foundation Scholarship from Cambridge Commonwealth Trust (2007)
- Sloane Robinson Foundation Scholarship from University of Oxford (2006)
Sourav’s research has contributed to the following key fundamental engineering science developments, which are currently being explored for applications in healthcare diagnostics, biomanufacturing and energy.
Nonlinear acoustic transduction method
Quartz crystal resonators are widely used for biochemical measurements. However, the traditional resonance frequency-based sensing method is often limited in detecting microparticles as the latter couple poorly with the thickness-shear mode resonator due to relatively small acoustic penetration depths. The nonlinear acoustic technology developed by Sourav and his team overcomes this limitation by transducing the additional anharmonic distortions in the acoustic signal. The method has been applied for detection of bacteria and immunoprotein functionalised microparticles and has shown substantial improvement in sensitivity and differentiation from non-specific binding, which is a practical challenge in point-of-care biosensors.
Key representative publications:
- Khobragade, S, Da-Silva-Granja, C, Sandström, N, Efimov, I, Ostanin, VP, van der Wijngaart, W, Klenerman, D, Ghosh, S (2020) Direct detection of whole bacteria using a nonlinear acoustic resonator, Sensors and Actuators B: Chemical, 316, 128086, ISSN: 0925-4005. DOI: 10.1016/j.snb.2020.128086.
- Da Silva Granja, C, Sandstrom, N, Efimov, I, Ostanin, VP, van der Wijngaart, W, Klenerman, D, Ghosh, S (2018) Characterisation of particle-surface interactions via anharmonic acoustic transduction, Sensors and Actuators B: Chemical, ISSN: 0925-4005. DOI: 10.1016/j.snb.2018.05.016.
Fixed frequency drive method for acoustic sensing
While the quartz crystal microbalance has made excellent advancements, its simplicity and costs still limit wide adoptability, system integration and multiplexability. Sourav’s team has developed the first analytical method for measurement of acoustic parameters, resonance frequency and dissipation. This has significantly improved the simplicity of acoustic sensing and the speed of acoustic data acquisition (sub-millisecond). The method has been successfully applied for detection of small molecular and immunosensing and currently being explored for real-time performance monitoring of viscous electrolytes.
Key representative publications:
- Guha, A, Ahmad, OS, Guerreiro, A, Karim, K, Sandström, N, Ostanin, VP, van der Wijngaart, W, Piletsky, SA, Ghosh, S (2020) Direct detection of small molecules using a nano-molecular imprinted polymer receptor and a quartz crystal resonator driven at a fixed frequency and amplitude, Biosensors and Bioelectronics, 158, 112176, ISSN: 0956-5663. DOI: 10.1016/j.bios.2020.112176.
- Guha, A, Sandstrom, N, Ostanin, VP, van der Wijngaart, W, Klenerman, D, Ghosh, S (2018) Simple and ultrafast resonance frequency and dissipation shift measurements using a fixed frequency drive, Sensors and Actuators B: Chemical, 281, pp.960-970, ISSN: 0925-4005. DOI: 10.1016/j.snb.2018.11.052.
Acoustic models for sensing viscoelastic materials
The quartz crystal resonator has a relatively high quality factor in liquid (~2000 for a 14 MHz oscillator in water), which is why it has been adopted widely for biosensing applications. However, the measurements get challenging with soft or viscoelastic materials such as mammalian cells, viscous liquids and polymers. The calibration and equivalent circuit models that Sourav’s team has developed have been successfully applied for real-time measurement of erythropoietic stem and generate meaningful acoustic signature for the complex differentiation process. These models are now being extended for detection of realtime coronavirus detection and measurement of polymer electrolytes for a new-generation Aluminium cell currently being studied by the group.
Key representative publications:
- Da-Silva-Granja, C, Glen, K, Sandström, N, Ostanin, VP, Thomas, R, Ghosh, S (2020) A quartz crystal resonator for cellular phenotyping, Biosensors and Bioelectronics: X, 6, 100057, ISSN: 2590-1370. DOI: 10.1016/j.biosx.2020.100057.
Electrochemical quartz crystal microbalance
Quartz crystal microbalance has been widely applied in electrochemical applications for characterising interfacial mechanisms and materials. However, nonspecific interactions and viscoelasticity of materials pose crucial challenges for reliable measurements at the electrodes. The nonlinear acoustic method and the analytical models developed in Sourav’s group have been applied successfully to address some of these challenges in electrochemical measurements.
Key representative publications:
- Swarbrick, S, Efimov, I, Ostanin, VP, Klenerman, D, Stolzing, A, Ghosh, S (2018) Anharmonic acoustic effects during DNA hybridization on an electrochemical quartz crystal resonator, Electrochimica Acta, 269, pp.526-533, ISSN: 0013-4686. DOI: 10.1016/j.electacta.2018.03.014.
- Khobragade, SO, Swarbrick, S, Gruia, V-T, Efimov, I, Ispas, A, Ostanin, VP, Bund, A, Ghosh, S (2017) Detection of flexibly bound adsorbate using the nonlinear response of quartz crystal resonator driven at high oscillation amplitude, Electrochimica Acta, 252, pp.424-429, ISSN: 0013-4686. DOI: 10.1016/j.electacta.2017.09.027.
Grants and Contracts
- PI in “Rapid point-of-care COVID-19 antigen test from saliva” funded by EPSRC Impact Acceleration Award via Loughborough University Enterprise (£142k) (2020-21).
- The project developed the fastest reported (5 min) coronavirus test using saliva samples (no swabs), applying a novel single-step fluorescence assay. A clinical trial is currently ongoing.
- PI in “Rapid Easy-to-use and Affordable Diagnostics for Wound” by National Biofilm Innovation Centre - a BBSRC-Innovate UK funded Innovation and Knowledge Centre (£93k) (2019-21).
- The project demonstrated the feasibility of the fastest reported (5 min) test for detection of wound-relevant bacteria in wound-mimic buffer and their sensitivity to commercial antimicrobials in collaboration with Smith+Nephew, applying a novel single-step aptamer fluorescence assay. A small clinical evaluation is currently ongoing.
- PI in “Rapid Diagnostic Test for Urinary Tract Infection” funded by EPSRC Impact Acceleration Award via Loughborough University Enterprise (£154k) (2018-19).
- PI in “Proof-of-concept of nonlinear acoustic method for detection of bacteria and biomolecules” funded by EPSRC Institutional Support and EPSRC Bridging the Gap in Antimicrobial Resistance (£110k) (2016-17).
- Co-I and “Diagnostics” WP leader in EPSRC Bridging the Gap in Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) network grant “Tackling Antimicrobial Resistance: An Interdisciplinary Approach” (£552k) (2015-17).
- Co-I in “Challenge-led Regenerative Medicine Manufacturing Research” project (£410k) under the “EPSRC Centre for Innovative Manufacturing in Regenerative Medicine” consortium (2013-14).
- Loughborough University PI and “Acoustic Sensors” WP leader in €3.4m EU consortium project on “NOROSENSOR - A real-time monitoring system for airborne norovirus” (£227k) (2013-2016).
- Innovative Young Biotechnologist Award (IYBA) – a grant from Department of Biotechnology (DBT), India, for development of rapid pandemic influenza sensor (5m INR) (2012).
- Winner, Downing Enterprise 2011 Competition, Downing College, University of Cambridge – a grant for translation of nonlinear acoustic technique developed from doctoral research (£33k) (2011).
- Cambridge University Entrepreneurs' Challenge, University of Cambridge: 2009 Phase I Winner & 2011 Grand Finalist.
- CamBridgeSens Innovation Award, University of Cambridge (£5k) – a grant to initiate the development of a nonlinear network analyzer, which was later fully developed as part of a EU project at Cambridge. The instrument provided unprecedented capabilities in range of frequency, amplitude, harmonics and measurement modes, and was adopted for research at Stanford, KTH Sweden, KU Leuven and University of Leicester.
Current teaching responsiblities:
- WSA101, Statics and Dynamics (Part A or 1st year): Deliver lectures, tutorials and laboratory for Mechanical Engineering BEng students.
- WSB413, Machine Design (Part B or 2nd Year): Deliver tutorials for Product Design Engineering BEng students.
- Supervise Final Year Individual Research projects for Mechanical, Electrical and Product Design Engineering (BEng, Meng and MSc) and Bioengineering (BEng) students.
Current administrative responsiblities:
- Visiting Academic Tutor for Industrial Placements students.
- Personal Tutor for Part A and Part B Mechanical Engineering students.
- Tour and Laboratory Demonstrator for University Open Days.
International Patent Applications
- S. K. Ghosh, V. P. Ostanin, and A. A. Seshia, “Apparatus and method for detecting target species in an analyte,” International Patent App. No.: PCT/GB2010/051511 (WO/2011/033285)
- S. K. Ghosh, V. P. Ostanin, and A. A. Seshia, “Method and apparatus for characterising molecules,” International Patent App. No.: PCT/GB2011/052349 (WO/2012/073011)
Current or recent collaborations have been with the following organisations.
- University of Cambridge, UK
- University of Leicester, UK
- University of Nottingham, UK
- Birmingham City University, UK
- KTH Sweden
- Stockholm University, Sweden
- KU Leuven, Belgium
- Stanford University, US
- Translational Health Science Technology Institute, India
- Thermo Fisher Scientific
- Smith & Nephew
- Johnson & Johnson
External roles and appointments
- DUO-India Fellow at Indian Institute of Technology Guwahati (2021).
- Panel Member on the SBRI Healthcare Funding Competition (2020).
- Remote Referee for ‘ERC Consolidator Grant 2018’ by the European Research Council (2018).