The breakthrough could allow for rapid and more accurate drug testing for professional athletes as it could detect the presence of even trace amounts of a substance.
It could also be used at airports or other high-security locations to prevent would-be terrorists from concealing explosives or traffickers from smuggling drugs. Another possible use could be detecting viruses people might be suffering from.
Graphene, isolated for the first time at The University of Manchester in 2004, has the potential to revolutionise diverse applications from smartphones and ultrafast broadband to drug delivery and computer chips.
It has the potential to replace existing materials, such as silicon, but University of Manchester researchers believe it could truly find its place with new devices and materials yet to be invented.
The researchers, lead by Dr Sasha Grigorenko, suggested a new type of sensing devices: artificial materials with topological darkness. The devices show extremely high response to an attachment of just one relatively small molecule. This high sensitivity relies on topological properties of light phase.
To test their devices, researches covered them with graphene. They then introduced hydrogen onto the graphene, which allowed them to calibrate their devices with far superior sensitivity than with any other material.
Testing for toxins or drugs could be done using a simple blood test, with highly-accurate results in minutes. The researchers found that the sensitivity of their devices is three orders of magnitude better than that of existing models.
The academics, from the School of Physics and Astronomy, hope the research will show the practical applications from an emerging area of research – singular optics.
Dr Grigorenko said: "The whole idea of this device is to see single molecules, and really see them, under a simple optical system, say a microscope.
"The singular optics which utilise the unusual phase properties of light is a big and emerging field of research, and we have shown how it can have practical applications which could be of great benefit.
"Graphene was one of the best materials we could have used to measure the sensitivity of these molecules. It is so easy to put the hydrogen on to it in controlled way.
"We are only starting to scratch the surface of what this research might tell us but it could have profound implications for drug detection, security and viruses."
Professor Andre Geim and Professor Kostya Novoselov won the Nobel prize for Physics in 2010 for their groundbreaking work on graphene.
Daniel Cochlin | EurekAlert!
Siberian scientists suggested a new method for synthesizing a promising magnetic material
23.01.2018 | Siberian Federal University
Complex tessellations, extraordinary materials
23.01.2018 | Technische Universität München
Physicists have developed a technique based on optical microscopy that can be used to create images of atoms on the nanoscale. In particular, the new method allows the imaging of quantum dots in a semiconductor chip. Together with colleagues from the University of Bochum, scientists from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics and the Swiss Nanoscience Institute reported the findings in the journal Nature Photonics.
Microscopes allow us to see structures that are otherwise invisible to the human eye. However, conventional optical microscopes cannot be used to image...
On the way to an intelligent laboratory, physicists from Innsbruck and Vienna present an artificial agent that autonomously designs quantum experiments. In initial experiments, the system has independently (re)discovered experimental techniques that are nowadays standard in modern quantum optical laboratories. This shows how machines could play a more creative role in research in the future.
We carry smartphones in our pockets, the streets are dotted with semi-autonomous cars, but in the research laboratory experiments are still being designed by...
What enables electrons to be transferred swiftly, for example during photosynthesis? An interdisciplinary team of researchers has worked out the details of how...
For the first time, scientists have precisely measured the effective electrical charge of a single molecule in solution. This fundamental insight of an SNSF Professor could also pave the way for future medical diagnostics.
Electrical charge is one of the key properties that allows molecules to interact. Life itself depends on this phenomenon: many biological processes involve...
At the JEC World Composite Show in Paris in March 2018, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT will be focusing on the latest trends and innovations in laser machining of composites. Among other things, researchers at the booth shared with the Aachen Center for Integrative Lightweight Production (AZL) will demonstrate how lasers can be used for joining, structuring, cutting and drilling composite materials.
No other industry has attracted as much public attention to composite materials as the automotive industry, which along with the aerospace industry is a driver...
08.01.2018 | Event News
11.12.2017 | Event News
08.12.2017 | Event News
23.01.2018 | Life Sciences
23.01.2018 | Earth Sciences
23.01.2018 | Physics and Astronomy