Assessing changes in dielectric properties due to nanomaterials using a two-port microwave system

Mohammed Rahman, Rachita Lahri, Syed Ahsan, Maya Thanou, Panagiotis Kosmas*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Detecting changes in the dielectric properties of tissues at microwave frequencies can offer simple and cost effective tools for cancer detection. These changes can be enhanced by the use of nanoparticles (NPs) that are characterised by both increased tumour uptake and high dielectric constant. This paper presents a two-port experimental setup to assess the impact of contrast enhancement on microwave signals. The study focuses on carbon nanotubes, as they have been previously shown to induce high microwave dielectric contrast. We investigate multiwall carbon nanotubes (MWNT) and their-OH functionalised version (MWNT-OH) dispersed in tissue phantoms as contrast enhancing NPs, as well as salt (NaCl) solutions as reference mixtures which can be easily dissolved inside water mixtures and thus induce dielectric contrast changes reliably. MWNT and MWNT-OH are characterised by atomic force microscopy, and their dielectric properties are measured when dispersed in 60% glycerol–water mixtures. Salt concentrations between 10 and 50 mg/mL in 60% glycerol mixtures are also studied as homogeneous samples known to affect the dielectric constant. Contrast enhancement is then evaluated using a simplified two-port microwave system to identify the impact on microwave signals with respect to dielectric contrast. Numerical simulations are also conducted to compare results with the experimental findings. Our results suggest that this approach can be used as a reliable method to screen and assess contrast enhancing materials with regards to a microwave system’s ability to detect their impact on a target.

Original languageEnglish
Article number6228
Pages (from-to)1-20
Number of pages20
JournalSensors (Switzerland)
Issue number21
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2020


  • Contrast enhancement
  • Microwave imaging
  • Nanoparticles


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