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Associate Professor

Education: B.Sc., M.Sc., Ph.D., Charles University

Research Area:Electrochemical NanoBiosensors;
Lab on a chip; Microfluidics

Phone: (65) 6316 8796

E-mail: pumera@ntu.edu.sg

Webpage: http://www3.ntu.edu.sg/home/pumera/

Research Interest

Our research interests are closely related to the needs of the society. To address pressing needs in healthcare, environment, security and energy resources sustainability, we carry out cutting edge research in following areas:



Biomolecules analysis is a topic of high importance for many applications in various fields such as medicine, security, forensic science or environmental protection. There is enormous need in the market for new tools for the detection of DNA, proteins, bacteria, and viruses which can provide a fast and reliable response, allowing at the same time in-situ analysis. A biosensor is the ideal tool which can fulfil all the above mentioned requirements. In the development of the latter a key issue is represented by the choice of both the sensing platform and the detection technique. In our group we combine the outstanding performance of graphene as transducer material together with the highly sensitivity of electrochemical impedance spectroscopy for the label-free detection of biomolecules.Several chemically modified graphenes with different surface features and various functionalities are being tested in order to choose the more appropriate for the bio-functionalization with the species which are specific for the recognition of the target molecule. Our aim is to obtain a final product that will be integrated in lab-on-a-chip device for portable, simple and rapid diagnostics.



Nature creates moving devices from nanometer to meter size. The question is, can we create man-made nanorobots able to move autonomously by the conversion of chemical to mechanical energy? Indeed, such effort has been successful. Such artificial nanomachines are self-propelled by the electrochemical decomposition of the fuel (for an example, hydrazine or hydrogen peroxide). These tiny devices are functionalized with different biomolecules in order to carry out the specific tasks, such as capture and transport of cargo.

Overall objective of this research direction is to study of the fundamental aspects of the movement of nanorobots, to expand the variety of fuel used to the biofuels and to develop simple techniques for directing nanorobots, empowering them to pick up and unload cargo on demand.

Click on the following picture for VIDEO.




Tremendous progress has been made in the emerging nanotechnology field in recent years. Along with a surge in nanomaterial-based products in industries like medicine and technology, there is an urgent need for research into nanotoxicity to circumvent negative consequences like human disease and environmental toxicity. Nanotoxicity arises mainly due to the presence of metal impurities like iron and cobalt, commonly used as catalysts during the manufacture of nanomaterials. In fact, it is discovered that a mere 100 ppm of iron was sufficient to dominate the redox ability of the nanotubes towards simple biomarkers like hydrazine.

Our research team examines nanomaterials like graphene-related nanomaterials and carbon nanotubes, the latter being found in components of commonly-used products like sporting equipment and biomedical devices. Additionally, we closely study the toxic effects of nanomaterials by employing traditional toxicology methodologies like in-vitro cell culture studies to study its toxicity. Specifically, we seek to illustrate the cytotoxic effects of nanomaterials in the interaction of nanomaterials during the biological interphase. To be part of our team is to be at the forefront of the discipline of nanotoxicology by studying the implications of nanomaterials, thereby contributing significantly towards the promising field of nanotechnology.

Organic Chemistry modification of graphene

The perfect assimilation of two different elements is bound to generate fiery sparks! This is especially true for the combination of synthetic chemistry and graphene nanomaterials. Chemical modifications of graphene hold the key towards unraveling the exciting potentials of graphene as they possess the ability to manipulate its physical and chemical properties to suit the needs of various applications. This is not only limited to the alteration of electronic properties via band gap engineering, but also comprises of the promising access to platforms for hydrogen storage in order to work towards a sustainable energy source.

By accessing a wide selection of synthetic methods, we strive to explore and perform fundamental studies on the functionalization of graphene nanomaterials. The areas of chemical modifications under investigations are not just limited to introducing covalent attachment on graphene nanomaterials, but also extend towards the oxidation of graphite, reduction of graphite oxide and exfoliation of defect-free graphene.

Fundamental and applied electrochemistry of graphene

Graphene, an aromatic single sheet of sp2hybridised carbon, has attracted tremendous attention since its isolation in 2004 due to the extraordinary electronic, mechanical and optical properties. Research on electrochemical properties of graphene is particularly attractive since the high electron conductivity, fast heterogeneous electron transfer rate (at edge and defect sheet sites), high surface area and scalable production routes, represent advantageous features for the fabrication of improved electrochemical sensing, biosensing and energy storage/production devices.

Our aim is to investigate the properties of graphenes prepared by several different synthetic procedures with particular focus on the resulting electrochemical properties which are crucial factors for the fabrication of novel, high-performance sensing, biosensing and energy storage/production devices.

Example of folded edges of graphene sheets.

Fast, sensitive and reliable detection of explosives in the field is very important topic in present days. Escalating threats of terrorist activity brings an urgent demand for innovative devices for on-site detection of industrial, military and improvised explosives. Remote detection of such hazardous substances requires that a powerful analytical performance be coupled to miniaturized portable low-powered instrumentation. We carry out development of top-end detection devices able to discover these threats under funding of Ministry of Defense, Singapore.

There is an urgent need for detection and characterization ofnanomaterials in water. Nanomaterials are used in wide variety of consumer and industrial products with about 1600 products nowadays on the market. It is inevitable that due to the small size of the nanoparticles, they are released into the environment.The aim of this direction is to assess the quantity, type, chemical composition and functionalities of nanoparticles and nanomaterials presented in the drinking water by laboratory based as well as by portable analyzer systems (lab-on-a-chip concept).

Selected Publications

  1. Adriano Ambrosi, Chun Kiang Chua, Bahareh Khezri, Zdeněk Sofer, Richard D. Webster,Martin Pumera*
    Chemically reduced graphene contains inherent metallic impurities present in parent natural and synthetic graphite
    Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. (PNAS) 2012, 109, 12899. Highlighted in “This week in PNAS" (5 articles from whole issue selected for this).

  2. Adriano Ambrosi, Sze Yin Chee, Bahareh Khezri, Richard D. Webster, Zdenek Sofer and Martin Pumera*
    Metallic Impurities in Graphenes Prepared from Graphite can Dramatically Influence their Properties
    Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 2012, 51, 500. VIP paper by Wiley (at least 2 reviewers judged this paper as very important).

  3. Adriano Ambrosi, Chun Kiang Chua, Alessandra Bonanni, Martin Pumera*
    Lithium Aluminum Hydride as Reducing Agent for Chemically Reduced Graphene Oxides
    Chem. Mater. 2012, 24, 2292

  4. Alessandra Bonanni, Adriano Ambrosi, Martin Pumera*
    On Oxygen-Containing Groups in Chemically Modified Graphenes
    Chem. Eur. J. 2012, 18, 4541. VIP paper by Wiley (at least 2 reviewers judged this paper as very important).Highlighted on Cover.

  5. Alessandra Bonanni, Martin Pumera*
    Graphene Platform for Hairpin-DNA based Impedimetric Genosensing
    ACS Nano 2011, 3, 2356.

  6. Martin Pumera*, Graphene-based nanomaterials and their electrochemistry
    (Invited review) Chem. Soc. Rev. 2010, 39, 4146.