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New Sensors Could Enable More Affordable Detection of Pollution, Diseases

22 June 2017

US - When it comes to testing for cancer, environmental pollution and food contaminants, traditional sensors can help. The challenges are that they often are bulky, expensive, non-intuitive and complicated.

Now, one team reports in ACS Sensors that portable pressure-based detectors coupled with smartphone software could provide a simpler, more affordable alternative while still maintaining sensitivity.

Current disease and contamination sensors require expensive readout equipment or trained personnel. Yuehe Lin, Yong Tang and colleagues propose a new detection system based on pressure changes.

For example, when a disease biomarker is present, it causes a chain reaction in the device that results in oxygen being released and pressure building. The pressure changes are measured by a portable barometer, and smartphone software provides an easy readout of the results.

To show the versatility of the pressure sensor, the team tested a variety of applications. Prototypes could detect carcinoembryonic antigen, a protein present in high levels in patients with colon or rectal cancer; ractopamine, which is an animal-feed additive banned in many countries; and thrombin, a cardiovascular disease marker.

In addition, a mercury-ion sensor was developed for environmental pollution monitoring. The researchers say that because the results are immediately available with a smartphone, the method could enable real-time monitoring of environmental pollution, disease outbreaks and food safety.

TheCattleSite News Desk



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