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).
Successful Mechanical Testing of Nanowires
07.12.2017 | Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht - Zentrum für Material- und Küstenforschung
Nature's toughest substances decoded
05.12.2017 | Rice University
The miniaturization of the current technology of storage media is hindered by fundamental limits of quantum mechanics. A new approach consists in using so-called spin-crossover molecules as the smallest possible storage unit. Similar to normal hard drives, these special molecules can save information via their magnetic state. A research team from Kiel University has now managed to successfully place a new class of spin-crossover molecules onto a surface and to improve the molecule’s storage capacity. The storage density of conventional hard drives could therefore theoretically be increased by more than one hundred fold. The study has been published in the scientific journal Nano Letters.
Over the past few years, the building blocks of storage media have gotten ever smaller. But further miniaturization of the current technology is hindered by...
With innovative experiments, researchers at the Helmholtz-Zentrums Geesthacht and the Technical University Hamburg unravel why tiny metallic structures are extremely strong
Light-weight and simultaneously strong – porous metallic nanomaterials promise interesting applications as, for instance, for future aeroplanes with enhanced...
An interdisciplinary group of researchers interfaced individual bacteria with a computer to build a hybrid bio-digital circuit - Study published in Nature Communications
Scientists at the Institute of Science and Technology Austria (IST Austria) have managed to control the behavior of individual bacteria by connecting them to a...
Physicists in the Laboratory for Attosecond Physics (run jointly by LMU Munich and the Max Planck Institute for Quantum Optics) have developed an attosecond electron microscope that allows them to visualize the dispersion of light in time and space, and observe the motions of electrons in atoms.
The most basic of all physical interactions in nature is that between light and matter. This interaction takes place in attosecond times (i.e. billionths of a...
Transistors based on carbon nanostructures: what sounds like a futuristic dream could be reality in just a few years' time. An international research team working with Empa has now succeeded in producing nanotransistors from graphene ribbons that are only a few atoms wide, as reported in the current issue of the trade journal "Nature Communications."
Graphene ribbons that are only a few atoms wide, so-called graphene nanoribbons, have special electrical properties that make them promising candidates for the...
08.12.2017 | Event News
07.12.2017 | Event News
05.12.2017 | Event News
08.12.2017 | Life Sciences
08.12.2017 | Information Technology
08.12.2017 | Information Technology