Engineers from the A*STAR Institute of Materials Research and Engineering and colleagues at the University of Basel, Switzerland, have designed and developed a compact, portable analytical instrument that can detect multiple ions and molecules down to a level of 300 parts per billion (ppb) in less than a minute (1).
Analyses of liquid samples that once required a full-sized laboratory can now be completed on a disposable plastic chip equipped with narrow fluidic channels and tiny sensors.
Copyright : 2013 A*STAR Institute of Materials Research and Engineering
The machine, based on lab-on-a-chip technology, needs only drop-sized liquid samples. The analysis is very quick, precise and sensitive, and can be performed remotely as no direct contact with the solution is necessary. As such, the device has widespread potential applications in the water, food and beverage, agriculture, environmental, pharmaceutical and medical industries.
“The instrument is now ready for commercialization,” says Kambiz Ansari, who led the research. “In this well-studied field, it is one of only a handful of actual lab-on-a-chip instruments reported so far.”
The easy-to-operate machine, which weighs only 1.2 kg, combines microchip electrophoresis (MCE) with a sensing technology known as a dual capacitively-coupled contactless conductivity detector (dC4D). The system first uses electrophoresis to separate ions and then detects the ions using dC4D. All analyses are performed in microfluidic channels consisting of capillaries inside polycarbonate plastic chips that are narrower than a human hair.
The beauty of the dC4D technology is its simplicity: it relies on remote conductivity measurements via a pair of electrodes. One electrode sends radio-frequency signals through a channel to the second electrode, and the signal received is read by a computer. Because the ions have charge, their resistance drops as they pass through the microfluidic channel, resulting in sudden peaks. Specially designed software then analyzes the data to provide both qualitative and quantitative information.
The instrument has two access compartments (see image). The front compartment houses a plastic chip and a replaceable cartridge detector for the testing; both are designed to eliminate noise. The back compartment houses the electronics and software, the data acquisition card and a battery that powers the instrument for up to 10 hours.
The researchers tested the instrument’s capability to measure inorganic ions in water, rabbit blood and human urine, as well as organic and inorganic acids in fruit juice. They assessed its accuracy against standard methods.
“We have been approached about licensing the technology by several companies active in clinical analyses and in the ornamental fish farm industry,” Ansari says. “And, we are hoping to further develop our system to achieve detection levels lower than 1 ppb by pre-concentrating the samples; we are also planning to introduce nanofluidics into the dC4D system.”
The A*STAR-affiliated researchers contributing to this research are from the Institute of Materials Research and Engineering
Ansari, K., Ying, J. Y. S., Hauser, P. C., de Rooij, N. F. & Rodriguez, I. A portable lab-on-a-chip instrument based on MCE with dual top–bottom capacitive coupled contactless conductivity detector in replaceable cell cartridge. Electrophoresis 34, 1390–1399 (2013).
Decoding cement's shape promises greener concrete
08.12.2016 | Rice University
Scientists track chemical and structural evolution of catalytic nanoparticles in 3-D
08.12.2016 | DOE/Brookhaven National Laboratory
Physicists of the University of Würzburg have made an astonishing discovery in a specific type of topological insulators. The effect is due to the structure of the materials used. The researchers have now published their work in the journal Science.
Topological insulators are currently the hot topic in physics according to the newspaper Neue Zürcher Zeitung. Only a few weeks ago, their importance was...
In recent years, lasers with ultrashort pulses (USP) down to the femtosecond range have become established on an industrial scale. They could advance some applications with the much-lauded “cold ablation” – if that meant they would then achieve more throughput. A new generation of process engineering that will address this issue in particular will be discussed at the “4th UKP Workshop – Ultrafast Laser Technology” in April 2017.
Even back in the 1990s, scientists were comparing materials processing with nanosecond, picosecond and femtosesecond pulses. The result was surprising:...
Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...
A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.
Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...
In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.
“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...
16.11.2016 | Event News
01.11.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
09.12.2016 | Life Sciences
09.12.2016 | Ecology, The Environment and Conservation
09.12.2016 | Health and Medicine