Prof Colette McDonagh

Colette McDonagh studied undergraduate physics at the National University of Ireland in Galway and was awarded a Ph.D. in Physics from TrinityCollege, Dublin. After postdoctoral work at TrinityCollege and at the Department of Applied Science at the University of California, Davis, she took up an academic position in the School of Physical Sciences at DublinCityUniversity in 1986.She currently holds the position of Associate Professor. She is director ofthe Optical Sensors Laboratory (OSL) in the School of Physical Sciences at DCU She is a PI in the National Centre for Sensor Research (NCSR) and in the Biomedical Diagnostics Institute (BDI). Funding for research comes from a variety of sources including industry, EU and national funding bodies.She has over 70 publications in peer-reviewed journals and over 1900 citations.

Research Interests

1. Enhancement strategies for optical biosensors

This work is part of the Biomedical Diagnostics Institute (BDI) and addresses the need for highly sensitive optical biochips for point-of-care diagnostic applications. Fluorescence, due to its high sensitivity, is an important tool in biomedical diagnostics. A range of optical enhancement strategies are under investigation including Supercritical Angle fluorescence (SAF) –based assay substrates for enhanced light collection, superbright dye-doped silica nanoparticles from improved assay labels and plasmonic enhancement which exploits the enhanced electric field experienced by a fluorescent dye when in the vicinity of a metal nanoparticle.

2. Sol-gel-based optical chemical sensors

This work involves the exploitation of sol-gel materials for optical chemical sensor development. The tailorable, versatile nature of sol-gel materials facilitate the design of sensor films for a range of analytes and application areas. Sensors currently under development include dissolved carbon dioxide sensor for environment monitoring, dissolved oxygen sensor for marine mapping and multi-analyte oxygen and pH sensor for bioprocess monitoring

3. Nanoparticle-based intracellular diagnostics

An in-depth understanding of biochemical processes occurring within the cell is a key factor for early diagnosis of disease and identification of appropriate treatment. The use of nanoparticle-based cell sensors is a potentially useful tool for real-time, in vivo monitoring of important cellular analytes such as H+, Ca2+, Mg2+, K+, dissolved O2 and glucose. Silica NPs, in which are encapsulated fluorescent probes for the analytes of interest, have advantages of biocompatibility, shielding of probe molecules from interferences in the cellular environment and ease of functionalisation for effective delivery into cells with minimum perturbation of cell function. We are developing luminescence-based nanosensors for O2 and pH and investigating their potential for intracellular diagnostics.


Advanced SolidState Physics

Semiconductors and Applications

Professional Development for Physicists

Laboratory methods for Year 1 students