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Joris Meurs featured in Vroege Vogels (NPO Radio 1)

As part of the NWA-ORC BENIGN project, the Life Science Trace Detection Laboratory (TDLab) is working together with Naturalis Biodiversity Centre. The aim of this collaboration is to non-invasively monitor the response of hay fever patients throughout the year when different types of pollen are present. Exhaled breath will be collected and analysed with mass spectrometry and ion mobility spectrometry at TDLab.

During the first field campaign, we were followed by the Dutch public radio programme Vroege Vogels. The item (in Dutch) featuring Joris Meurs can be found here Een hooikoorts vriendelijke stad | NPO Radio 1


New project GELSONDE for measuring NO2 in the atmosphere

Nitrogen dioxide is a gas that has a high proportion of nitrogen precipitation and is hard to measure. But that could soon change: the Dutch Research Council (NWO) Open Technology Programme (OTP) has awarded €700,000 to the GELSONDE project, led by Paul Kouwer, from the Radboud University Institute for Molecules and Materials. Synthetic gel expert Kouwer and gas detection expert Simona Cristescu, also from Radboud University, are collaborating in this project with the Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute (KNMI) and SensorSense, among others.


More information:

News article in Vox (Dutch): https://www.voxweb.nl/nieuws/zeven-ton-subsidie-voor-onderzoek-naar-apparatuur-die-stikstof-kan-meten-voor-het-knmi
News article RU (English): https://www.ru.nl/en/research/research-news/grant-of-eu700000-to-gain-better-understanding-of-nitrogen-dioxide-with-gelsonde
News article RU (Dutch): https://www.ru.nl/onderzoek/onderzoeksnieuws/zeven-ton-subsidie-om-stikstofdioxide-beter-in-beeld-te-krijgen-met-gelsonde
Project page: GELSONDE


Junior researcher in multispecies open-path molecular absorption spectroscopy

Are you an enthusiastic recent Master’s graduate of Physics and Astronomy, Molecular Sciences, or related fields? Are you keen on developing or working with novel scientific instruments but you are not sure if you would like to stay in academia and pursue a PhD? Then we have a proposition for you! Join us as a junior researcher for a year (paid position), learn how things work in laser spectroscopy, and gain hands-on experience as well as better clarity for your future!

Who we are?

We are Life Science Trace Detection Laboratory (TDLab) part of Institute for Molecules and Materials (IMM) at Faculty of Science, Radboud University.

What we do?

Research in the TDLab focuses on the detection of species in the gas phase in complex mixtures at trace levels. For this, we use various laboratory instruments such as high-resolution mass spectrometry, and we also develop new laser-based spectroscopic instruments (e.g. using Fourier transform spectroscopy) for specific applications.  These applications include agri-food industry, air pollution monitoring, bio-medical and disease detection, emission/exposure measurement, and much more.

What is the project about?

In this project, we develop a transportable laser-based sensor for detection of trace gas species in an open-path configuration. The sensing principle is based on molecular absorption and the technology is based on supercontinuum laser sources and Fourier transform spectroscopy (FTS). In the open-path configuration, the laser beam is sent out from the source over a free distance (outside of the lab) and is reflected back towards the spectrometer, where the absorption spectrum is recorded. Different gas species absorb light at different wavelengths, thus by analyzing the spectrum we can determine the gases and their concentrations.

What is this position about?

You will join a team of researchers working on a transportable open-path spectrometer and learn about the system. You will align the optics inside the system and the open-path beam, while you get familiar with the FTS, as well as analysis of the absorption spectrum. Afterwards, you will perform measurements in the field for open-path monitoring of pollutants/greenhouse gases, and analyzing the data. The data analysis will include proper modeling to achieve emission rates from retrieved concentrations. Therefore, you can expect to gain a lot of new experiences in different disciplines.

What expertise is needed?

Prior basic knowledge of laser physics, absorption spectroscopy, and MATLAB is strongly recommended.


Webpage of our group: https://www.ru.nl/tdlab

Dr. Simona M. Cristescu: simona.cristescu@ru.nl


Vacancy for PhD Candidate for Gas-phase Contamination Detection in Real-life Applications: Combining Spectroscopy and Spectrometry

Are you an enthusiastic young scientist who likes to work with and/or develop new instruments in the laboratory? And do you hold a Master's degree in physics (photonics), engineering (electrical) or related fields? Would you like to be involved in research and development to find the best methods for detecting gas phase contaminations in novel/demanding applications such as those used in the green hydrogen and semiconductor industry? If so, then you have a part to play as a PhD candidate in our research team. Put your ideas to the test at our green campus and push your boundaries in an internationally friendly environment.

More information: https://www.ru.nl/en/working-at/job-opportunities/phd-candidate-for-gas-phase-contamination-detection-in-real-life-applications-combining-spectroscopy-and-spectrometry


Developing personalised diets to combat obesity and diabetes

A new nutrition platform aims to make diet recommendations for individuals a reality.


With the wide variety of food choices available today, it can be difficult for individuals to know what’s best for them to eat. Food choices, particularly in early life, can have a significant impact on the development of diseases such as diabetes and obesity. Personalised nutrition is an emerging field that tailors dietary recommendations to an individual’s unique genetic, metabolic, microbiomic and lifestyle factors. In the EU-funded NUTRISHIELD project, researchers developed an innovative framework to help people make better nutrition choices, including a platform based on a novel algorithm. NUTRISHIELD focused on young populations with obesity and/or diabetes, mothers of premature infants and primary schoolchildren. “In the future, the NUTRISHIELD algorithm could provide personalised nutritional advice based on the specific genomic and gut microbiome profile of each single child,” explains Miltos Vasileiadis, business developer at Alpes Lasers and principal investigator on the NUTRISHIELD project. “This will enhance the personalised dimension of the approach and will enhance the chances of a therapeutic effect,” he adds.

Innovative clinical trials

The NUTRISHIELD project ran a series of experimental evaluations, to gather data needed to create the platform. In the first clinical study, the team collected data from three cohorts of children with obesity and/or diabetes. They analysed urine, faeces and blood samples to reveal microbiome composition and the degree of gut inflammation – biomarkers of gut barrier integrity. The second study focused on lactating mothers and their premature infants, to investigate the effect of maternal nutrition on human milk composition and how this affects health outcomes of prematurely born babies. “Sample analysis was performed employing state-of-the-art laboratory techniques in combination with newly developed, laser-based tools,” says Vasileiadis. “One of the success stories of the present project is the use of infrared laser spectroscopy for the quantification of specific protein subfractions present in human milk.” A third study explored the connection between nutrition, gut metabolism and the neural development of spatial cognition in primary schoolchildren. This involved novel tools such as breath analysis, which can provide detailed information on gut metabolism.

Providing nutritional advice

The team’s nutritionist analysed the diet of diabetic and obese children, and using the NUTRISHIELD approach developed a personalised diet to enhance dietary habits that promote a healthy gut microbiome. The project also shed light on how certain vitamins evolve during the first month after birth, possibly relating to infant needs and the establishment of metabolic capabilities. Another key development was to build a profile of Bifidobacterium, a key gut microbe, among preterm and control babies. “We clearly identified trends for what constitutes a ‘healthy Bifidobacterium balance’ in newborns at each phase of their early life,” notes Vasileiadis.

Developing the NUTRISHIELD platform

Through the project, the team created a NUTRISHIELD platform to offer personalised nutrition advice, consisting of three interconnected tools. The NUTRISHIELD dashboard gathers and analyses nutritional information with an algorithm and is intended for nutritionists and other health professionals. The NUTRISHIELD Clinical Trial App (CTA) is a tailored tool used by health professionals to gather all the necessary information from the patients, mainly in the form of questionnaires. The NUTRISHIELD app can be run on a smartphone and engages the user in following the dietary plan. “This is an efficient and fun way to deliver a personalised dietary plan to a child,” says Vasileiadis.

More information: NUTRISHIELD


HyTROS initiative into large-scale hydrogen transport and storage technologies

Researchers from TDLab have teamed up with 32 parties from research and industry to work together on developing safe and cost-effective solutions for HyTROS - “Hydrogen Transport, Offshore and Storage” within the WP2 of the GroenvermogenNL.


Like the rest of the world, the Netherlands is faced with an immense climate challenge. As part of the Nationaal Groeifonds, GroenvermogenNL is the Netherlands’ approach to transform from a fossil-based society and industry towards a green future. Green hydrogen acts as a tractive force to support this transition.

The up-scaling of green hydrogen production for deployment in the energy system and the down-scaling of the natural gas production, makes it vital to examine whether and to what extent the existing intensive transmission and distribution network for natural gas can be used in a safe and acceptable manner for the transport of hydrogen.


Safety in HyTROS

Among other aspects, the safety of the operation and the quality of the delivered hydrogen is one of the focus points that is addressed in HyTROS, an 18 million euros subsidy from the Dutch government and 18 industrial partners. Researchers from TDLab in association with the Dutch national metrology institute - VLS and University of Applied Sciences Nijmegen - HAN will develop and test analytical solutions and instruments for reliable measurement of impurities in the hydrogen. TDLab will investigate the sources of hydrogen contaminations to find the most important species and their potential concentration levels expected in the real-life application. Based on the outcome of the study, TDLab will design a multispecies gas detection system for the detection of these contaminants.

This provides a tailored solution for the detection of hydrogen contaminations arising from different infrastructures previously used for natural gas and guarantees the utilization of the state-of-the-art trace detection technologies in our green hydrogen ecosystem, being developed in coming years.

“We are happy to be part of this multidisciplinary consortium and contribute to the solution in this field.” (Simona Cristescu and Amir Khodabakhsh).

More information: HyTROS

GroenVermogenNL Logo


Visit VOLT Centre

As part of the IRP Voucher VOCSENSE, our researcher Joris Meurs visited, together with Rosa Boone (Plant Ecology and Physiology) and Bjorn Robroek (Aquatic Ecology and Environmental Biology), the Centre for Volatile Interactions of the University of Copenhagen. This research centre, led by Riikka Rinnan, is specialised in investigating emissions of volatile (organic) compounds from Arctic landscapes. During the visit, Joris presented the work of the TDLab. Furthermore, there were lots of opportunities for scientific discussion around the VOCSENSE project as well as social gatherings.


Two IRP 2024 vouchers for Life Science Trace Detection Laboratory

The Faculty of Science has awarded two IRP vouchers to projects in which the Life Science Trace Detection Laboratory (TDLab) is involved. The Interdisciplinary Research Platform (IRP) vouchers are awarded to work on interdisciplinary research projects in the field of Green Information Technology, Machine Learning in the Natural Sciences or Experimental Laboratories in Life Sciences and consist of €50,000 per voucher. The IRP vouchers will allow researchers of the Faculty of Science to start a pilot project with researchers of other institutes within the faculty and optionally also with external collaborators. The vouchers were presented during a celebratory gathering on Monday 2nd of October 2023 in the Huygens building.

More information: https://www.ru.nl/en/about-us/news/twelve-interdisciplinary-research-groups-receive-an-irp-voucher

The TDLab is involved in the following projects:

Towards accurate detection of greenhouse gas emission from wastewater treatment plants

TDLab: Amir Khodabakhsh, Roderik Krebbers, Kees van Kempen, Simona Cristescu
Aquatic ecology & Environmental Biology: Annelies Veraart, Lisanne Hendriks, Ralf Aben, Christian Fritz, Sarian Kosten
Ecological Microbiology: Sebastian Lücker,
ISIS: Laurens Landeweerd,
IMAPP:Laurens Sluyterman, Eric Cator,
External collaborators: Floor van Schie (Hoogheemraadschap Hollands Noorderkwartier), Eric van der Zandt (Hoogheemraadschap de Stichtse Rijnlanden), Mike Mirov (IPG Photonics Corporation), Ehsan Mohammad Pajooh (Jaeger Umwelt-Technik)

Wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) contribute to greenhouse gas (GHG) emission such as CO2, CH4, and especially the potent N2O. However, GHG emission datasets from WWTPs with sufficient spatial and temporal coverage are scarce and very few experimental studies report on other climate active gases. To address this need, this project uses a novel multispecies gas sensor capable of open-path gas detection covering large spatial scales of WWTPs. This technique enables detection of several gases and volatiles, retrieving their real-time emission rates, and quantifies the GHG emissions for different WWTPs with unique operational features. This project will enable better quantitative understanding of the current emissions of GHGs and pollutants that impact public health. Improved GHG emission inventories will lead to better decision making on mitigation strategies, thorough evaluation of new green(er) technologies, and improve regional GHG budgets. Hence, providing a long-term benefit in the zero-emission vision and a healthier environment for the society.

Voucher Amir

AI for broadband spectroscopy: How machine learning can help to find biomarker fingerprints to determine kidney haemodialysis efficiency?

TDLab: Simona Cristescu, Amir Khodabakhsh, Roderik Krebbers
IMAPP: Eric Cator, Laurens Sluijterman
External collaborators: Peter Merkus (RadboudUMC), Mike Mirov, Sergey Vasilyev (IPG Photonics, USA)

Loss of kidney function is a life-threatening condition typically treated with haemodialysis or a kidney transplant. Chronic kidney disease often goes unnoticed until there is significant impairment in kidney function. Therefore, early detection of kidney failure is crucial. Unfortunately, there are currently no established biomarkers that allow early identification of deteriorating kidney function. However, evidence suggest that certain compounds associated with deteriorating kidney function are present in exhaled breath. As breath analysis is non-invasive, this approach is particularly feasible in children. This project aims to develop a machine learning model capable of accurately obtaining the concentrations of various compounds in exhaled breath samples, by using the absorption spectrum. The model is expected to work even in the presence of noise and spectral interference.

Voucher AI


Joris Meurs wins MW Trofee 2023

Our group member, Joris Meurs, has won the MW Trofee 2023. The prize is awarded annually by the Molecular Sciences Education Institute to a person who made a significant contribution to the education given within the Molecular Sciences cluster, and the nominations can only be submitted by students from this education cluster.

Joris was awarded this prize for his outstanding performance in the supervision of bachelor and master interns: "Despite his busy schedule, and the numerous students he is supervising simultaneously, Joris always manages to find time to be there for them." the jury said in their report.

Joris MW-Trofee


Webinar SensorChip by Bronkhorst High-Tech

On Thursday September 21, High Tech NL will organize, in collaboration with Bronkhorst High-Tech, an informative webinar about SensorChip, from 14.00 to 15.30h.

Industrial and academic partners worked together in the SensorChip project to develop sensors for liquid flow, biogas detection and cancer diagnostics based on photonic chips.

About the project

The project is a collaboration between companies in the high-tech sector (Bronkhorst, Lionix, Surfix, Phix, Chilas, Qurin and SensorSense) and knowledge institutions (UTwente and Radboud University). The project has delivered three new optical sensor concepts in the areas of:

  • Micro-Coriolis mass flow sensing
  • Gas sensing of biogas composition: CH4-CO2
  • Early detection of (bladder) cancer

More information: https://www.hightechnl.nl/hightechnl/agenda/webinar-sensorchip/


TDLab wins Team Science Award 2022!

During the New Year's reception of the Faculty of Science on January 9th, 2023, the team of the Life Science Trace Detection Laboratory was awarded the Radboud University Faculty of Science Team Science Award.

The faculty has awarded us with this prize in recognition of the great results of our team effort in which we performed our research during the 4 Days Marches.

During the 4 Days Marches, the team measured the effect of exercise on people with various health conditions via direct and real-time measurement of the metabolites in exhaled breath. Additionally, the researchers measured the air quality with a specially equipped cargo bike, driving next to the assigned walking routes.

Bringing research into the field can only be done as a real team effort, bringing together people with various expertises and backgrounds: from people involved in the 4 Days Marches, medical specialists, or the education centre, to our department's physicists, chemists, and data scientists.

Simona Cristescu, group leader TDLab: "I am happy and proud that my team received the award as a symbol of our accomplishments. I really enjoyed the spirit and energy of the team. A huge thanks to everyone making it a success and the most sincere thanks to the jury members."

Team science award

More information: https://www.ru.nl/imm/news-events/news/@1367577/team-science-award-for-life-science-trace/


PhotonicsNL visits TDLab

On October 31, 2022, Ron van der Kolk, the director of PhotonicsNL paid a visit to our laboratory. PhotonicsNL is the national association for photonics and optics in the Netherlands. Its mission is to enable collaborations in the photonics value chain and promote the national photonics community in the Netherlands and abroad.

The TDLab is very happy to be a part of this community and a member of PhotonicsNL. During the visit, we were able to demonstrate the techniques and set-ups available in our lab, and we are looking forward to fruitful collaborations within the PhotonicsNL community. A start has been already made; for more info please check here.


Vacancy for PhD Candidate in Early Detection of Poultry Disease

Do you want to make a significant impact by preventing Infections in poultry? Then you have a part to play! As a PhD candidate, you will be part of the group at the Life Science Trace Detection Laboratory of Radboud University. The work is within the NWA-ORC OBSeRVeD project on the early detection of poultry disease using chemical profiling.

More information: https://www.ru.nl/en/working-at/job-opportunities/phd-candidate-in-early-detection-of-poultry-disease


Internship (BSc or MSc) positions open

Within our group, we are always open for interested students who are looking for internships. Currently, we are specifically looking for students for the following two projects:


Sune and Katarina Svanberg visit TDLab

On Monday the 22nd of August, Katarina Svanberg and Sune Svanberg visited the Life Science Trace Detection Laboratory (TDLab) to pay a visit to their former student Yueyu Lin.
Sune Svanberg was a 1998-2006 member of the Swedish Academy of Sciences' Nobel Committee for Physics. Katarina Svanberg served as president of SPIE in 2011. Simona Cristescu, Amir Khodabakhsh and Yueyu Lin showed the laboratory setups and introduced the current projects of the group.



Kick-off NWA-ORC project OBSeRVeD

On the 21st of September the kick-off meeting took place of the NWA-ORC project Odor-Based Selective Recognition of Veterinary Disease (OBSeRVeD) at Saxion University of Applied Sciences in Enschede. At this meeting, the work package leaders presented the outline of the research in the project. The Life Science Trace Detection Laboratory is leading the work package on data processing and data analysis. Furthermore, a number of industrial partners presented themselves and expressed their interest in the project.



Vacancy for Postdoctoral Researcher in MAX-FRESH project

We are looking for a postdoctoral researcher to help develop the world's first automated commercial multi-species trace gas analyser based on mid-infrared absorption spectroscopy. This position is part of the MAX-FRESH project.

More information can be found here: https://www.ru.nl/en/working-at/job-opportunities/postdoctoral-researcher-for-gas-sensing


Workshop - “Nutrition and cognitive development in children”

On Tuesday, October 4th, 2022 at 10.00 CEST, a workshop on nutrition and cognitive development in children will be hosted as part of the Nutrishield project. Life Science Trace Detection Laboratory (TDLab) group leader dr. Simona Cristescu will be presenting a non-invasive technique that allows detection of specific biomarkers in exhaled breath, such as the short chain fatty acids that may be useful in predicting the nutritional status.

About the workshop
The food we eat can influence our brain functioning, and perhaps even more, can influence the development of the child brain. The way nutrition might affect the brain is by influencing the microbes in the gut and the immune system. The gut microbes respond by producing specific metabolites. Some of them can be found in breath, as they are carried by blood into the lungs and exhaled. Bacteria rapidly colonize the infant gut after birth. These bacteria become part of a relatively stable ecosystem that has an important role in child health and growth. There is increasing evidence that these bacteria also impact the child's brain, hence affecting child behavior and cognition.

The other presenters are:

Prof. dr. Carolina de Weerth, who will present the multifarious role of gut bacteria on child health and growth, but also cognitive development.

Prof. dr. Esther Aarts, who will show evidence of the body-brain links and what they mean for a healthy diet.


Time (CET)




Gut microbiota and child development

Prof. Dr. Carolina de Weerth
Radboud University Medical Center


Nutritional Neuroscience: the importance of the gut-brain axis throughout the lifespan

Prof. Dr. Esther Aarts
Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour


Breathomics in relation to nutritional status

Dr. Simona Cristescu
Life Science Trace Detection  Laboratory, Radboud University

More information and registration: https://nutrishield-project.eu/workshop-nutrition-and-cognitive-development-children


Three IRP 2022 vouchers for Life Science Trace Detection Laboratory

The Faculty of Science has awarded three IRP vouchers to projects in which the Life Science Trace Detection Laboratory (TDLab) is involved. The Interdisciplinary Research Platform (IRP) vouchers are awarded to interdisciplinary research projects in the field of Green Information Technology, Machine Learning in the Natural Sciences or Experimental Laboratories in Life Sciences and consist of €50,000 per voucher. The project teams will receive the sum as part of the faculty voucher arrangement of the Interdisciplinary Research Platform (IRP). The vouchers were presented during a celebratory gathering on Tuesday 28 June in the Huygens building.

More information: https://www.ru.nl/science/news-agenda/news/vm/@1358043/irp-vouchers-awarded-to-12-interdisciplinary/ or https://www.ru.nl/science/research/interdisciplinary-research-platform/

The TDLab is involved in the following projects:

VOCSENSE: Towards smart soil sensing to expedite the transition to a greener agriculture
With a growing population, soil health is increasingly important. However, past land use intensification, including fertilizer and pesticide use has significantly aggravated soil biotic diversity and functioning. Emissions of Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) from soil could be promising to monitor soil biological health. The unique profile of soil VOCs can be linked to soil microbial community composition and concurrent soil biological health. The current challenge is to link VOC profiles to soil health parameters that can be used by farmers. The VOCSENSE team will deliver step-change research on the fundamental relationships between soil biodiversity, VOCs and soil health parameters, to guide farmers in sustainable decision making.

Essential oils as green pesticides for sustainable agriculture
The use of synthetic pesticides helps to maintain crop yields but their use has detrimental effects on ecosystems and human health, and has led to resistance to pathogens. Therefore, alternative plant protection strategies are urgently needed. Essential oils (EOs), i.e. aromatic, volatile liquids obtained from plant material, could be an excellent alternative to such pesticides, as they are environmentally friendly, biodegradable and have a broad spectrum of activity against plant pathogens, including oomycetes and fungi. The effectiveness of EOs is mainly due to triggering resistance pathways within the host plant. Using downy mildew infection in grapevine as a case study, this project aims to understand how to induce plant innate immunity through EO application, use this knowledge to support environmentally friendly viticulture and develop products for use in the field.

Scent of killer: do malaria parasites produce and sense organic volatile compounds?
Despite decades of elimination efforts malaria remains one of the deadliest infectious diseases worldwide. Malaria is caused by unicellular, eukaryotic parasites, which have a complex life cycle. Communication between parasites and between the parasite and its hosts could be exploited both for intervention and diagnostic purposes, and very few molecules involved in such communication have been identified. This project explores the relevance of volatile compounds in the biology of malaria parasite. Do volatile compounds influence parasite growth, development or gene expression? Success of this project could offer exciting new opportunities for the development of breath-based diagnostic devices for malaria.


Kees van Kempen in final round of SPIN Bachelorproject-wedstrijd

On Friday 22 April, Kees van Kempen participated in the final round of the SPIN Bachelorproject-wedstrijd at the conference FYSICA. In 2020-2021, Kees did his bachelor project within the Trace Gas Research Group on wavelength modulation spectroscopy on traces of carbon monoxide using quantum cascade lasers under the supervision of Frans Harren. This technique for detection of carbon monoxide can be useful within medical diagnostics and research on plasma-catalytic conversions.

Every year, the Association for Physics Students in the Netherlands (SPIN) organizes a competition for the best bachelor project. Every study association for physics in the Netherlands can nominate one project, after which a jury selects three finalists to present their research during FYSICA.


Via a livestream, we were able to cheer for Kees and watch his presentation during FYSICA.


NWA-ORC awarded 5 million euro to the OBSeRVeD project

The NWA-ORC of the NWO (Research along Routes by Consortia) supports interdisciplinary research that leads to scientific and societal breakthroughs. A team of scientists with complementary expertise of 5 universities, 3 universities of applied sciences and 18 co-funding commercial and societal partners have joined efforts in Odor-Based Selective Recognition of Veterinary Disease (OBSeRVeD). The project aims to develop innovative electronic nose-based (eNose) sensors for early detection of poultry disease.

During this project, we are part of work package (WP) 1 and 4. In WP1, we will focus on the sampling and analysis of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) under laboratory and (semi-) field conditions using different mass spectrometry techniques. The aim is to identify volatile signatures of a selection of prevalent poultry diseases. To do so, multivariate analysis tools will be employed to extract disease-relevant VOCs.  This will then be used to design a specific and selective sensor system. To carry out this work, a dedicated PhD student, funded through OBSeRVeD, will be appointed.

For WP4, we will have a leading role where we aim to develop suitable data processing strategies and machine learning algorithms for the eNose system.

The project, led by Dr. Cas Damen (Saxion University of Applied Sciences) will start in September 2022 and will last for six years.


Retirement dinner Frans Harren

On 8 April 2022, a dinner was organized for Frans Harren at the Van der Valk Hotel in Lent to celebrate his sixty-seventh birthday and his retirement from Radboud University. After being postponed several times as a result of the covid pandemic, the dinner finally could take place, with short speeches given by friends between the dinner courses. Frans Harren delivered the closing speech.



Defense M. Ali Abbas 14 December 2021 at 14:30 hrs.

Time-resolved mid-infrared dual-comb and Fourier transform spectroscopy for plasma diagnostics
PDF Dissertation


Defense Khalil Eslami Jahromi 6 July 2021 at 14:30 hrs.

Multi-Species Trace Gas Sensing Using Mid-Infrared Supercontinuum Source for Real-Time Quality Control of Fruit Storage
PDF Dissertation


Green IT voucher awarded to the project Green Integrator: solution provider for measurements and analysis of greenhouse gas emissions

There is a strong need for reliable gas sensors to generate accurate data on large scale based on which decisions are taken to reduce overall environmental impacts of greenhouse gas emissions.

Dr. Simona Cristescu is the main applicant of the proposal and together with a multidisciplinary team will tackle this problem. We aim to investigate existing and new technologies to build and use low-cost sensors to map the emission of greenhouse emission in the Netherlands. "I am looking forward to working together with all research partners from Aquatic ecology, Environmental science and Data science at FNWI and collaborators from WUR, Tu/e and Prodrive technologies", Cristescu says.


FLAIR consortium developed a sensor for large scale monitoring air-quality data for a safer environment

Air pollution is globally a significant risk factor for a number of severe health conditions such as lung cancer and strokes. In Europe only, air pollution is estimated to cause more than 300.000 premature deaths each year. Moreover, the total annual economic cost of air pollution related to health is estimated to be >1.4 trillion Euro. Consequently, significant efforts are taken to improve air quality. However, current portable monitoring technologies don’t provide the adequate protection at local community level. In the ‘FLAIR’ (FLying ultrA-broadband single-shot Infra-Red sensor) project an interdisciplinary team of research and industrial partners developed a high-performance air sampling sensor for large scale high-specificity and high-sensitivity air-quality monitoring data.

Dr. Frans Harren was coordinator of the FLAIR project. “By providing fast and detailed air quality data at large scale, near community areas, near industrial infrastructure, highways, harbors, rural areas or in the case of catastrophic events like chemical accidents we ultimately contribute to a safer environment”, Harren says.

concept of FLAIR

Figure: Concept of FLAIR

Large scale monitoring

Air quality monitoring at large scale is required to ensure compliance with air quality legislation and to provide information for political decision making about air quality and safety. “The high-performance air sampling sensor based on cutting-edge photonic technology is mounted on an airborne platform for pervasive and large area coverage high-specificity and high-sensitivity (at part per billion concentration levels) air quality sensing”, Harren explains. Monitoring targets include industrial infrastructure, maritime and land based traffic, landfills and agriculture. Due to its high sensitivity and selectivity, the FLAIR sensor will not only provide information about a single molecular species or contamination, but is also capable of identifying unexpected substances. “In this way you can generate a complete picture of air quality”, Harren adds.

IR absorption

Operating in the two atmospheric windows of the infrared wavelength region: 2-5 μm and 8-12 μm, the FLAIR sensor can detect minute traces of molecules in complex gas mixtures from their characteristic IR absorption fingerprints and provide real time information to the operator. Because of the local sampling FLAIR can provide local data from inside optically dense clouds and plumes that are not accessible for ground based laser remote sensing methods such as LIght Detection And Ranging (LIDAR). The ultimate aim is to provide crucial data to emergency response forces and help coordinating counter measures in case of catastrophic events. “Beside that we coordinated and managed the project, we provided spectroscopic data, performed preliminary experiments, validated the system analyzed the data from the flying demonstration tests”, Harren says.


The FLAIR public-private consortium involves partners from 5 European countries (Denmark, Netherlands, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland) and is part of the European H2020 collaborative project. The innovative nature of the approach proposed in FLAIR comes from the novel design of an advanced optical spectroscopy device based on the integration of sub-systems establishing a new state-of-the-art in their respective fields.

FLAIR film

The research team has made a film of their research work. 
You can watch here what the project was all about.

Continuation of research work

The research cooperation will be continued in the joint H2020 TRIAGE project. TRIAGE will develop a smart, compact and cost-effective air quality sampling sensor network for the hyperspectral detection of relevant atmospheric pollution gases with focus on spectral resolution and distinguishing pollutants from the atmospheric mixture. This is supported by cloud-based deep-learning algorithms, which will enable automated short-term alerts and long-term trend analysis. The project will extensive test the system in urban environments. Several Swedish and Swiss environmental and transport companies will be involved The H2020 Triage project starts on 1 March 2021 and will run for three years.


Project Ultra-broadband infrared gas sensor for pollution detection

The ultra-broadband infrared gas sensor for pollution detection (TRIAGE) project will start in early 2021. The project is a public-private international collaboration with 9 research/industrial partners. This interdisciplinary research team will develop a cloud-connected, smart photonic sensing system for real-time alert on high, local air pollution levels that are dangerous for human health.

Frans Harren, group leader and head of the Life Science Trace Gas Facility within the Institute for Molecules and Materials (IMM) of Radboud University, takes part in the consortium. “At the moment, air pollution is monitored at regional scale, but locally there can be large differences in concentration levels. Here, we aim for a citizen-alert sensing system. Near industry, farms, airports, harbors, etc. local air pollution levels can be increased, including in the case of an industrial fire or a chemical accident. The capability of detecting toxic clouds can be vital for nearby evacuation planning.”

The consortium received 5.8M Euro in total for the realization of the project.

Air pollution

Worldwide, air pollution is one of the largest risk factors for disease or premature death. However, current portable monitoring technology cannot provide adequate protection at a national and regional level. The research team aims to design a sensor that is based on a mid-infrared supercontinuum source, providing ultra-bright emission across the 2-10 µm wavelength region. Within this spectral range, harmful gasses can be detected with high sensitivity and selectivity. The spectroscopic sensor that includes a novel multi-pass cell and detector, enables a smart robust photonic sensing system for real-time detection. With in-built chemometric analysis and cloud connection, the sensor will feed advanced deep-learning algorithms and data storage to enable analysis ranging from long-term continental trends in air pollution to urgent local warnings and alerts.

“As Trace Gas research group we have a unique position in scientific knowledge and applied research to be at the heart of this project. Specific spectroscopic knowledge is needed to selectively identify the gases at sensing levels that are dangerous to human life and health. Within this consortium we will be able to broaden our expertise towards smart sensing, adopting chemometrics and deep learning algorithms.”


fig.: Impact Triage Project

Current challenges

Air pollution is a significant risk factor for various severe health conditions such as lung cancer and strokes. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), ambient air pollution (outdoor) was estimated to cause 4.2 million premature deaths worldwide and contributed to 7.6 % of all deceased in 2016. The total annual economic cost of air pollution related health impacts is estimated to be over 1.4 trillion Euro. Evidently, more and more national and international regulation on the monitoring and control of air pollution is required. A lot of actions have been taken to improve air quality, e.g. land-use planning strategies, waste management and replacement of fossil fuels by clean energy sources. However, these measures are only fruitful if supported by large scale air quality monitoring networks to ensure real-time citizen alerts on local pollution levels and compliance with air quality legislation. “I am very excited to work on this project to ultimately contribute to cleaner and healthier air”, Harren concludes.

The research partners in the TRIAGE project are Technical University of Denmark (Denmark), VIVID Components (UK), NKT Photonics (Denmark), Senseair (Sweden), Centre Suisse d’Electronique et de Microtechnique (Switzerland), Norblis (Denmark), Linköpings University (Sweden) and Vigo System (Poland). Major industrial end users are Bruker Optics (Germany) and Siemens (Germany)

The Trace Gas Facility has high experience in developing spectroscopic devices with extremely high detection sensitivity and measurement speed for complicated trace gas mixtures using continuous wave lasers, femtosecond dual frequency combs systems, as well as supercontinuum sources.


Monitoring system for fruit storage to the market with FTI grant

IMM researcher Frans Harren uses his expertise in the field of gas detection to develop a monitoring system for fruit and vegetables in storage rooms. After his successful Interreg project QCAP with partners from Germany, Belgium and England, he has now secured an H2020 Fast Track To Innovation grant of 2.2 million euros with a number of these partners. Frans Harren: “With this new MAX-FRESH project we can realize the final steps to the market.”

QCAP: Real-time interactive storage Quality Control in fresh Agro Products

A significant part of the fruit and vegetable production gets lost during the qcap-def-versiepostharvest process.. In the QCAP project, 12 European stakeholders have therefore joined forces to develop an affordable tool that could help farmers monitor the ripening process of their products in real-time. This new tool contains a next-generation gas detector that simultaneously measures seven different gases released by fruit and vegetables. The first prototypes already show promising results for apples, pears, blueberries and potatoes.

Fast Track to Innovation

The monitoring system meets all requirements for an FTI programme: it is beyond state-of-the-art innovation with considerable socio-economic value and a strong business case. That is why the team now gets the opportunity to work from prototypes towards a marketable system in the MAX FRESH project. The system is expected to be available to agribusiness companies by the end of 2023.

Frans Harren: “Cooperation between knowledge institutes, high-tech companies and agricultural organizations is essential for the development of such a monitoring system. In the QCAP project we coordinated this collaboration from Radboud University, but closer to the end goal we think it’s better that a commercial party will pull the cart. That is why Storex is now taking over. They have connections with the market and I am confident that they can successfully introduce the system in the sector.”


Radboud University delivers the first QCAP trace gas sensor prototype

After iterative rounds of optimization and validation, Radboud University has managed to develop the first QCAP sensor prototype. All the functional subcomponents have been fully integrated into a transportable platform, and the system has been successfully delivered to the Flanders Center of Postharvest Technology (VCBT) for real-time trace gas sensing.

R&D seldom proceeds as straightforward as initially thought, and the footprints of the QCAP sensor are certainly no exception. Within the past two years, the QCAP researchers at Radboud University have re-designed the hardware/software architecture, leading to the realization of the first robust, compact, and sensitive QCAP sensor prototype.

This prototype features a bright and broadband mid-infrared supercontinuum light source provided by NKT Photonics. The researchers integrated a reference photodetector into the spectrometer to counterbalance the power drift of the light source, improving the long-term stability of the sensor. The complex gas handling system in the prototype is specially designed for applications in VCBT, where small (~10 L) and middle (300 L) sized storage containers are mostly utilized. A versatile water trap is also implemented, allowing the detection of multiple gas species with reduced water interference. Remarkably, preliminary laboratory-scale apple fermentation experiments show very promising results with high reproducibility, successfully achieving sub-ppm sensitivity for ethanol detection.

Concerning the 210 km journey from Radboud University to VCBT during one of the coldest days of the past winter, it came as no surprise that the sensor prototype fell into hibernation at -4 °C. Fortunately, the warm welcome atmosphere of the local researchers awakened it, and more excitingly, the first broadband ethanol absorption fingerprints appeared at the sunrise horizon after overnight darkness.

Measurements associated with the first trial for a real pear storage container show very promising results.  Ethylene concentration of 45.3 ppm has been successfully detected by the QCAP sensor prototype, in excellent agreement with the expected concentration of 43.5 ppm validated by gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS). Controlled experiments involving various other gas species are currently underway, and the feedbacks will be valuable for developing and improving the second sensor prototype for potato storage applications in Cranfield University.

The research will be presented in the Conference on Lasers & Eletro-Optics / Europe (CLEO Europe) in the upcoming June in Munich.

Ethanol emission from fermented apples detected from the QCAP sensor.

Ethanol emission from fermented apples detected from the QCAP sensor.

First ethanol absorbance spectrum (black curve) and the associated fit (red curve) obtained at VCBT using the QCAP sensor

First ethanol absorbance spectrum (black curve) and the associated fit (red curve) obtained at VCBT using the QCAP sensor


NKT PHOTONICS DELIVERS REDESIGN OF SuperK MIR laser to Radboud University: November 1, 2018

NKTP update_SuperK MIR


QCAP detector assembly in full swing at Radboud University : October 29, 2018



RN7 documentary on the research of dr. Simona Cristescu

TV Nijmegen, RN7 (Rijk van Nijmegen 7) broadcast documentary "Nijmegen Knowledge": Breath analysis through trace gas detection (in Dutch), 14 June 2018



Four Day March:

The Four Days Marches represent an unique opportunity to examine the effect of intensive exercise on participants health status. This year the focus will be on users of statins (lipid-lowering drug) and their muscle performance. Statins are widely prescribed medications to reduce the incidence of major cardiovascular events. However, the drug may also produce muscle symptoms such as fatigue, cramps, stiffness and tenderness. A better understanding into the influence of statins on muscle function and damage is thus needed. Furthermore, changes in various metabolic processes are expected and their monitoring reveals important information on the health status of an individual. Here, breath analysis is a very useful tool as it is non-invasive and provides fast response of these changes.

Dr. Simona Cristescu from dept. of Molecular and Laser Physics (Exhaled biomarkers group) at Science Faculty (IMM, RU) has deployed three instruments outside the lab to measure gas metabolites in exhaled breath of one hundred participants; statin users with muscle complaints in comparison with asymptomatic statin users and non-statin users. Data analysis will be carried out at dept. of Analytical Chemistry, RU (dr. Jeroen Janssen). Her team joins prof. Maria Hopman’s team (Physiology, Radboud UMC, coordinator) and prof. Leo Koenderman (UMC Utrecht).



A breath test for severely ill patients
Complications occur regularly in the operating room and on the intensive care. Unfortunately, they are not always detected on time. Physicist Simona Cristescu discovered that increased ethylene production is a good predictor for complications. She hopes to develop a breathing test in the future that will easily detect complications in severely ill patients.

For more information please follow the link (in Dutch): https://www.nemokennislink.nl/publicaties/een-ademtest-voor-ernstig-zieke-patienten/

Ethylene: a plant hormone and an early marker of systemic inflammation in humans

Traces of ethylene were detected by laser spectroscopy as part of the systemic inflammatory response to bacterial infection, both in isolated blood leukocytes as well as in a controlled experiments with healthy volunteers. The results are published in SciRep 7: 6889, doiI:10.1038/s41598-017-05930- (2017)

Press release: http://www.ru.nl/english/news-agenda/news/vm/imm/2017/bacterial-infection-breath/


The 12th International User Meeting and Summer School on Cavity Enhanced Spectroscopy will take place from
12 - 15 June 2017 in Hotel Zuiderduin in Egmond aan Zee, The Netherlands.

Organization: Frans J.M. Harren and Simona M. Cristescu
Trace Gas Research Group
Radboud University
Nijmegen, The Netherlands

Website: http://www.ru.nl/cavityenhancedspectroscopy2017/


Anne Neerincx finalist by Radboud Talks
Anne has participated in “Radboud Talks”, and is one of the 8 finalists who will compete for the jury and audience award on Wednesday evening, March 30th, 2016 in Lux Theater Nijmegen.

Anne Neerincx, PhD student at the Trace Gas Research Group is one of the 8 finalists of “Radboud Talks”. Radboud Talks is a pitch competition where scientists from all disciplines tell their story in just three minutes for a live audience and jury.  (http://www.ru.nl/english/research/vm/radboud-talks/?/).
She was interviewed by the radio program “Gezond en Wel” about her project on “breath test for patients with cystic fibrosis”, and her participation in Radboud Talks. The interview can be found here: https://www.mixcloud.com/gezondenwel024/gezond-wel-13-2-2016-uur1/ (Anne’s interview starts at 35.00 min.)
Do you want to hear Anne talk? Go to http://www.lux-nijmegen.nl/agenda/debat/radboud-talks-+-scientific-pitch-competition_33518/


chem &miky

Press release in ''Chemie is overal' after the NPO 2 TV interview
February 2015


MvD_AndreKuijpers002 web

Interview on NPO 2 TV science program
'De kennis van nu' with A. Kuipers
30 November 2014


miky trotsI
Interview on TV GLD program

'Trots op Gelderland'
14 January 2015

Vetverbranding meten aan de hand van aceton in adem
ZorgKrant.nl - LeesbaarOnderzoek.nl
14 July 2014