University of Antwerp

Prinsstraat 13, 2000 Antwerpen



The University of Antwerp is a dynamic, forward-thinking, European university. UA offers an innovative academic education to more than 20 000 students, conducts pioneering scientific research and plays an important service-providing role in society. In its pursuit of international excellence, the University of Antwerp is a true research university with a particularly strong expertise in the following spearhead areas in research: Imaging; Neuroscience; Infectious diseases; Drug research; Material characterization; Ecology and sustainable development; Port, transport and logistics; Big city, history and contemporary policy; Socio-economic policy and organization.

Department & Lab

Department of Bioscience Engineering

A-Sense Lab / Antwerp Electrochemical and Analytical Sciences Lab

Campus Groenenborger, Groenenborgerlaan 171, 2020 Antwerp

A-Sense Lab

A-Sense Lab
A-Sense Lab is one of the research groups of the Bioscience Engineering Department of the Faculty of Sciences in the University of Antwerp. The acronym "A-Sense Lab" stands for Antwerp Electrochemical and Analytical Sciences Lab. The word "Sense" refers to "sensing and detection", which is one of our core research activities. In everything we do, we contribute to a more healthy and safe world in order to make "Sense" to our community.
We introduce fundamental innovation in sensing and detection in a wide area of applications: from drugs of abuse to cultural heritage and air quality analysis. Together with our partners, we bridge the gap between the academic world, industry and society. We take the process as important as the result.

Research Team

Prof. Dr. Karolien De Wael obtained her Ph.D in Chemistry at UGent in 2005, later becoming full professor of Analytical Chemistry at the University of Antwerp in 2008 and head of the A-Sense Lab. From 2014 until 2019, she was member of the Young Academy (Belgium). She publishes in international peer-reviewed journals, with 6 patent applications. Since 2020, she is board member of the Bio-Electrochemical Society. In September 2021, she became chairwoman of the Bioscience Engineering Department.

Dr. Victoria Beltran obtained her Ph.D. in the research group Analysis of materials from Cultural Heritage of Polytechnic University of Catalonia (Spain) in 2016. From 2016 to 2019 she was a postdoctoral researcher in the laboratory IPANEMA (CNRS, France), working in close collaboration with Soleil Synchrotron (France). In 2019 she started a postdoc at A-Sense Lab on the analysis of cultural heritage materials, with particular focus on molecular characterization by means of vibrational spectroscopies and complementary techniques.

Dr. Andrea Marchetti obtained his Ph.D. in Chemistry at the University of Antwerp (A-Sense Lab) in April 2021, with a thesis focusing on the application of state-of-the-art analytical methods to the study of cultural heritage materials. Since May 2021 he is a postdoctoral researcher in the A-Sense Lab, studying the degradation of different heritage materials (glass, metal, paint and pigments) by means of molecular spectroscopies and complementary techniques.

Research focus within ArtGarden

In the ARTGARDEN project, the A-Sense team focused on the in-depth analysis of metal and glass objects, with the final aim of unraveling composition, material properties and reactivity of these historical materials.
In particular, the team researched the material properties behind the extraordinarily pristine conservation state of a series of brass sequins in the 16th century Enclosed Gardens of Mechelen. The results of this fundamental research allowed to answer key questions about the reactivity of historical alloys in indoor conditions, ultimately highlighting the capital importance of the manufacturing process on the long-term stability of historical brass.
A deeper understanding on the influence of the microenvironment and surroundings on the reactivity of historical brass was also obtained. In particular, thanks to the application of novel analytical methods such as Optical Photothermal IR (O-PTIR) spectroscopy, evidence of glass-induced corrosion processes on historical brass decorative elements was obtained. This key information resulted in a deeper understanding of present and future risks for unique cultural heritage objects, translating into optimized preventive conservation strategies.
In the context of material-material interactions and air quality analysis, the team also conducted volatile organic compounds (VOCs) sampling and analysis in historical showcases and objects.

Keywords metal, brass, glass, degradation, corrosion, VOCs, characterization, analysis