Prof. Suresh Bhargava, Fellow of Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering and Fellow of Royal Society of Chemistry working at RMIT, gave a talk on Nano Innovation: From Mind to Market Place: Creating Nano Engineered Surfaces for Mercury Sensing and other applications at the School of Chemistry on August1, 2013. In his talk Prof. Suresh said that nearly 60,000 babies are born every year in USA alone with mercury related diseases. The toxicity of mercury remains a threat to the environment and public health despite a number of efforts by government bodies world-wide. In March 2013 United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) has passed a resolution signed by 167 countries including India and China to control mercury emissions in the air therefore its mercury emission management has become a part of air pollution control. Mercury is a common environmental pollutant that is neurotoxic and bio-accumulative. Currently mercury sensor technologies employed by many industries are based on ultraviolet spectroscopy generally suffer from cross-sensitivity issues since other gases present in industrial steams, such as SO2, NO2 and many carbonyl containing volatile organic compounds (VOCs) may also absorb the same UV wavelength (253.7 nm) as mercury. Therefore the measurement of elemental mercury vapor in the presence of such compounds is an important issue for a large number of industrial applications, added Prof. Suresh.

Later he shared findings from his work to show how the humble Quartz Crystal Microbalance (QCM) can be combined with well formed gold nano-engineered surfaces to overcome these cross-sensitivity issues without compromising sensitivity by using specially developed nano-engineered surface which are formed by novel electrochemical protocols. The developed surfaces ranging from elegant and extremely ordered nanostructured surfaces via novel electro-deposition methods to controlled bi-metallic metal surface formed via galvanic replacement reactions. The shape and crystallography of the developed nano-engineered surfaces is shown to significantly contribute to the chemical and electronic properties of the sensor. This work describes how both electro-deposition and galvanic replacement reactions can be utilised to transform benign surfaces into high active surfaces which can be used to sense mercury in the presence of common VOCs that are present in many industrial processes. Additionally the long-term sensing performance of the developed sensor over a 6 month testing period is also discussed, said Prof. Suresh. He later confided that  this technology has moved from his laboratory to the market place and is now ready for Commercialization.

Professor Baragava, Fellow of Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering, Fellow of Royal Society of Chemistry is Indian Born Australian Scientist, working at RMIT since 1990 at Melbourne as Deputy Pro Vice-Chancellor (International Research links) and as the Director of Centre of Advanced Materials and Industrial Chemistry Group. He developed a truly multidisciplinary, multicultural research group (innovation Hub) of 52 scientists including 26 Ph.D. students from all over the world. He was the part of the RMIT team that visited the UoH in December 2012 and is now exploring ideas of working together with the researchers at University of Hyderabad. He has established a RMIT-IICT Joint research Centre at Hyderabad and has published more than 240 papers with nearly 4000 citation which is growing at rate of ~2 per day.