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Wednesday, 06 October 2021

Master’s student invents glucose sensor

DRIVEN BY SUCCESS: Neville is flanked by his parents, Neville Senior and Leonie Cory when he graduated with Bachelor of Technology in Chemical Engineering. DRIVEN BY SUCCESS: Neville is flanked by his parents, Neville Senior and Leonie Cory when he graduated with Bachelor of Technology in Chemical Engineering.

Chemical Engineering Master's student Neville Cory has developed a sensor that is powered by a cellphone flashlight to measure blood glucose.

The Klerksdorp born student, who grew up in the small village of Geita in Tanzania, says diabetes is an untreatable disease that has been affecting people for centuries.  

Cory who has already summited Mount Kilimanjaro, says the only available tools to combat diabetes is through strategic monitoring.  

“I have had first-hand experience of the effects of diabetes, due to my grandfather who was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes many years ago. This therefore sparked the interest to challenge the traditional ways of modern-day glucose testing, which involves pricking your finger and depositing drops of blood onto a single use enzymatic testing strip,” Cory continues.

“This strip is then analysed by a glucose-meter, which is an electronic device that determines the amount of glucose present in your blood.”

The 27-year-old student, who first enrolled for his Diploma at CPUT in 2015, adds that the amount of glucose in the sample is measured in millimoles (mM). Normal human blood contains anywhere between 4-7 mM of glucose; however, diabetics suffer from massive glucose spikes which reach as high as 20 mM. He states that previous researchers have attempted to synthesize non-enzymatic glucose sensors, however the detection range (linear range) falls short of these spikes and thus those sensors cannot accurately determine the amount of glucose present at high concentrations.

“I have therefore synthesized a non-enzymatic photo-electrochemical (PEC) glucose sensor that, with the use of a standard 6-Watt LED light, that can be found in most modern-day smartphones, achieved superior photocurrent generation with a linear range of up-to 29 mM.”

Moving around the country and especially to another country granted Cory the opportunity to experience a host of different cultures and communities which really opened “my eyes to see how wonderfully diverse the world is”. He says his enrollment at CPUT was made possible with the assistance of former Extended Curriculum Programme Senior Lecturer, Dr Moses Basitere, who assisted him through the registration process.

“I will never forget his kindness and willingness to assist.”

For his Master’s degree, Cory is supervised by Dr Mahabubur Chowdhury. “It was under his expert guidance and mentoring that I am on my way to reaching my goal of attaining a Master of Engineering in Chemical Engineering.”

He says the CPUT staff members that he was in direct contact with were always extremely helpful and kind. Cory mentioned Hannelene Small, Derrick Dlamini, Ntombifuthi Bingo and Alwyn Bester who assisted him with “small and great things without any hesitation".

Written by Des