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!
New biomaterial could replace plastic laminates, greatly reduce pollution
21.09.2017 | Penn State
Stopping problem ice -- by cracking it
21.09.2017 | Norwegian University of Science and Technology
Plants and algae use the enzyme Rubisco to fix carbon dioxide, removing it from the atmosphere and converting it into biomass. Algae have figured out a way to increase the efficiency of carbon fixation. They gather most of their Rubisco into a ball-shaped microcompartment called the pyrenoid, which they flood with a high local concentration of carbon dioxide. A team of scientists at Princeton University, the Carnegie Institution for Science, Stanford University and the Max Plank Institute of Biochemistry have unravelled the mysteries of how the pyrenoid is assembled. These insights can help to engineer crops that remove more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere while producing more food.
A warming planet
Our brains house extremely complex neuronal circuits, whose detailed structures are still largely unknown. This is especially true for the so-called cerebral cortex of mammals, where among other things vision, thoughts or spatial orientation are being computed. Here the rules by which nerve cells are connected to each other are only partly understood. A team of scientists around Moritz Helmstaedter at the Frankfiurt Max Planck Institute for Brain Research and Helene Schmidt (Humboldt University in Berlin) have now discovered a surprisingly precise nerve cell connectivity pattern in the part of the cerebral cortex that is responsible for orienting the individual animal or human in space.
The researchers report online in Nature (Schmidt et al., 2017. Axonal synapse sorting in medial entorhinal cortex, DOI: 10.1038/nature24005) that synapses in...
Whispering gallery mode (WGM) resonators are used to make tiny micro-lasers, sensors, switches, routers and other devices. These tiny structures rely on a...
Using ultrafast flashes of laser and x-ray radiation, scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (Garching, Germany) took snapshots of the briefest electron motion inside a solid material to date. The electron motion lasted only 750 billionths of the billionth of a second before it fainted, setting a new record of human capability to capture ultrafast processes inside solids!
When x-rays shine onto solid materials or large molecules, an electron is pushed away from its original place near the nucleus of the atom, leaving a hole...
For the first time, physicists have successfully imaged spiral magnetic ordering in a multiferroic material. These materials are considered highly promising candidates for future data storage media. The researchers were able to prove their findings using unique quantum sensors that were developed at Basel University and that can analyze electromagnetic fields on the nanometer scale. The results – obtained by scientists from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics, the Swiss Nanoscience Institute, the University of Montpellier and several laboratories from University Paris-Saclay – were recently published in the journal Nature.
Multiferroics are materials that simultaneously react to electric and magnetic fields. These two properties are rarely found together, and their combined...
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