Babar is the founder of MiSect, and a Postdoctoral Fellow, funded by KAUST Innovation and Economic Development.
Khan’s invention works by automatically sampling liquid, like water, in real-time, using a chemical detection method to figure out how many microbes are present. Specifically, it uses the microbe’s natural enzyme activity to break a tracer molecule. This gives the company the ability to detect quickly, early, and with great resolution without setting up expensive cameras or physical detection systems. The data is all collected and sent back to the control room where operators can then trigger the proper cleaning protocol. This leads to less clogging of filters, and more clean water for everyone to use. The technology is unique because it relies on the biology of the cells, instead of just imaging or looking at physical parameters like pressure changes across the system. Other techniques are able to detect very late in bacterial community formation, which makes it harder to clean. The sensor we’ve developed can detect early and do it without introducing expensive equipment. Ultimately, this leads to reductions in chemical disinfectants usage and safer system overall.