Bin Qian

I am Bin, a second year PhD student at RMIT University. I received my Master's degree (Pharmaceutical Engineering) from the East China University of Science and Technology, where my research projects focussed mainly on surface modification of polymer stent and developing a heater to protect the prostate gland during cryosurgery.

In 2017, I started my PhD research into developing nanomaterials for copper detection in soil. I felt excited about this new project as it's a new area that I’ve never touched on. Heavy metal pollution is a serious problem all over the world. It's quite urgent to develop fast detection methods to measure heavy metal contaminant concentrations on site.

Photo of Bin Qian


  • Synthesis of organic molecules
  • Nanomaterials characterisation (Scanning and Transmission Electron Microscopy)
  • Optical tests, including fluorescence and UV-vis
  • Other analytical skills, such as Modi-TOF mass spectrometry, high-performance liquid chromatography, inductively coupled plasma absorption spectrometer and water contact angle

Project Type

Topic: Development of Nanomaterials as Optical Sensors for Copper Contaminants in Soil

Heavy metal species are non-biodegradable, potentially toxic molecules. Due to the potential health hazards and environmental damage heavy metals can cause, the detection, monitoring and ultimately remediation of heavy metals are at the centre of our attention. Optical sensing methods have been developed for the sensing of heavy metals, which are facilitated by small organic molecular sensors or nanomaterials. These sensors allow for the detection of trace amounts of the analytes of interest in relatively small samples. We are developing and assessing a range of small organic molecules for their copper sensing performance in aqueous soil solution extract to understand the structural requirements of sensing molecules to achieve optimal selectivity and sensitivity. Moreover, I will summarise and further evaluate the potential use of non-toxic luminescent nanoparticles, such as quantum dots (QDs), for the optical sensing of copper. These materials, due to their unique photophysical properties and versatile surface chemistry, offer the possibility for encapsulation or surface attachment of functional materials, while retaining their native luminescence property. Combining the small organic molecular sensors and nanoparticles for the sensing of copper, I aim to identify composite materials with improved sensing performance towards copper. Alternatively, the goal is to develop sensing methods for deployment on site with minimal sample preparation required, especially the preparation of soil solution extract.

Aims of the studies:

  • Design and synthesize fluorescent probes with coordination sites specific to Cu(II) to be used for sensing in aqueous solution
  • Understand the structural requirement and mechanism behind the coordination of copper by the synthesized probes
  • Design molecular sensors for copper while retaining the structure of the coordination site
CU sensing molecules

Figure 1: Structures for Cu(II) sensing molecules with different size of coordination site and atom arrangement

Figure 2: TEM images of SiO2 nanoparticles (1) coated with coumarin derivatives-based copper sensing molecules; (2) pure SiO2 nanoparticles.

Figure 2:

TEM images of SiO2 nanoparticles (1) coated with coumarin derivatives-based copper sensing molecules; (2) pure SiO2 nanoparticles.

Figure 3: Fluorescence emission intensities of SiO2-coumarin in the absence and presence of 200 μM CuCl2 in pure water solution

Figure 3:

Fluorescence emission intensities of SiO2-coumarin in the absence and presence of 200 μM CuCl2 in pure water solution

Prior Work

  • Research on preparation and anti-fouling PVP-modified PU used in intravascular stents (National Natural Science Foundation of China (NSFC) contract 21304034), 09/2013-06/2015)
  • Research on preparation and anti-encrustation mechanism of a novel chondroitin sulphate film (NSFC contract 21304034), 09/2013-06/2016)
  • Research on the temperature-controlled electrical urethral heater used during prostate cryoablation (Science and Technology Commission of Shanghai Municipality contract 15441904100), 07/2015-01/2017)
  • Internship at BASF - modification of water based paint, 03/2014-09/2014



  • The Cryoprobe Coated with Drug-Loading Polymer (具有聚合物载药涂层的冷刀), by M. Lan, Z. Chang, D. Zhang, B. Qian, B. Xu. (Sep. 9, 2015). Patent CN205073353U. Accessed on Jun. 30, 2017. [Online – see below]
  • The Method to Prepare a Protein and Cell Resistant Polyurethane Film(具有抗蛋白吸附和抗细胞黏附的聚氨酯材料及其制备方法), by M. Lan, W. Zhang, H. Yuan, J. Xue, B. Qian, B. Sun and X. Fang. (Apr. 28, 2014). Patent CN104262668A. Accessed on Feb. 4, 2015. [Online – see below]
  • The Method and Urethral Heater used in Prostate Cryoablation (前列腺肿瘤冷冻消融术中尿道保温控制装置及方法),, by B. Qian and B. Xu. (2017, Feb. 22). Patent CN106901827A. Accessed on Jun. 30, 2017. [Online – see below]

CNIPA website:


  • B. Qian, L. Váradi, A. Trinchi, S.M. Reichman, L. Bao, M. Lan, G. Wei, I.S. Cole, The Design and Synthesis of Fluorescent Coumarin Derivatives and Their Study for Cu2+ Sensing with an Application for Aqueous Soil Extracts, Molecules vol.24, pp.569, 2019
  • H. Zhao, B. Qian, B. Kai, M. Lan, Apparatus for Electrical Urethral Heater Used in Prostate Cryoablation, Journal of East China University of Science and Technology, vol 45, issue 6, pp. 891-898, 2019
  • H. Yuan 1, B. Qian1, W. Zhang, M. Lan, “Protein adsorption resistance of PVP-modified polyurethane film prepared by surface-initiated atom transfer radical polymerization”, Applied Surface Science, vol. 363, pp. 483-489, 2016.
  • H. Yuan 1, B. Qian1, H. Chen, Y. Zhu, M. Lan, “Preparation and antifouling property of polyurethane film modified by chondroitin sulfate”, Applied Surface Science, vol. 394, pp. 403-413, 2017.
  • H. Yuan 1, B. Qian1, H. Chen, M. Lan, “The influence of conditioning film on antifouling properties of the polyurethane film modified by chondroitin sulfate in urine”, Applied Surface Science, vol. 426, pp. 587-596, 2017.
  • B. Qian, H. Zhao, B. Xu, M. Lan, “A Thermal Protective Urethral heater applied to modulate the prostate cryoablation area”, Cryo-Letters, vol. 38, pp. 305-314, 2017.

Further Information

  • Senior Supervisor: Prof Ivan Cole (RMIT University)
  • Associate Supervisor: Associate Prof Suzie Reichman (RMIT University)
  • Associate Supervisor: Dr Lei Bao (RMIT University)
  • Associate Supervisor: Dr Adrian Trinchi (CSIRO)
  • Associate Supervisor: Dr Linda Varadi (CSIRO)

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Acknowledgement of country

RMIT University acknowledges the people of the Woi wurrung and Boon wurrung language groups of the eastern Kulin Nation on whose unceded lands we conduct the business of the University. RMIT University respectfully acknowledges their Ancestors and Elders, past and present. RMIT also acknowledges the Traditional Custodians and their Ancestors of the lands and waters across Australia where we conduct our business.