Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Paper strips can quickly detect toxin in drinking water

11.01.2010
A strip of paper infused with carbon nanotubes can quickly and inexpensively detect a toxin produced by algae in drinking water.

Engineers at the University of Michigan led the development of the new biosensor.

The paper strips perform 28 times faster than the complicated method most commonly used today to detect microcystin-LR, a chemical compound produced by cyanobacteria, or blue-green algae. Cyanobacteria is commonly found on nutrient-rich waters.

Microcystin-LR (MC-LR), even in very small quantities, is suspected to cause liver damage and possibly liver cancer. The substance and others like it are among the leading causes of biological water pollution. It is believed to be a culprit of mass poisonings going back to early human history, said Nicholas Kotov, a professor in the departments of Chemical Engineering, Biomedical Engineering and Materials Science and Engineering who led the project.

Water treatment plants—even in developed countries—can't always remove MC-LR completely, nor can they test for it often enough, Kotov said. The biosensor he and his colleagues developed provides a quick, cheap, portable and sensitive test that could allow water treatment plants and individuals to verify the safety of water on a more regular basis.

"The safety of drinking water is a vital issue in many developing countries and in many parts of the United States," Kotov said. "We've developed a simple and inexpensive technology to detect multiple toxins."

The technology could easily be adapted to detect a variety harmful chemicals or toxins in water or food.

A paper about the technique is published online in Nano Letters. It will soon be available in the journal's print edition.

The sensor works by measuring the electrical conductivity of the nanotubes in the paper. Before the nanotubes are impregnated in the paper, they are mixed with antibodies for MC-LR. When the paper strips come in contact with water contaminated with MC-LR, those antibodies squeeze in between the nanotubes to bond with the MC-LR. This spreading apart of the nanotubes changes their electrical conductivity.

An external monitor measures the electrical conductivity. The whole device is about the size of a home pregnancy test, Kotov said. Results appear in fewer than 12 minutes.

To adapt the biosensor for other toxins, Kotov said, scientists could simply replace the antibodies that bond to the toxin.

The paper is called "Simple, Rapid, Sensitive and Versatile SWNT-Paper Sensor for Environmental Toxin Detection Competitive with ELISA." It is available online at http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/nl902368r.

This research was done in collaboration with the laboratory of professor Chuanlai Xu at Wuxi University in China. It is funded by the National Science Foundation, the Air Force Office of Scientific Research, and the National Institutes of Health, as well as the National Science Foundation of China and the 11th Five Years Key Programs for Science and Technology Development of China.

The university is pursuing patent protection for the intellectual property, and is seeking commercialization partners to help bring the technology to market.

Michigan Engineering:
The University of Michigan College of Engineering is ranked among the top engineering schools in the country. At more than $130 million annually, its engineering research budget is one of largest of any public university. Michigan Engineering is home to 11 academic departments and a National Science Foundation Engineering Research Center. The college plays a leading role in the Michigan Memorial Phoenix Energy Institute and hosts the world class Lurie Nanofabrication Facility.

Nicole Casal Moore | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.engin.umich.edu

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht A Map of the Cell’s Power Station
18.08.2017 | Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg im Breisgau

nachricht On the way to developing a new active ingredient against chronic infections
21.08.2017 | Deutsches Zentrum für Infektionsforschung

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Fizzy soda water could be key to clean manufacture of flat wonder material: Graphene

Whether you call it effervescent, fizzy, or sparkling, carbonated water is making a comeback as a beverage. Aside from quenching thirst, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have discovered a new use for these "bubbly" concoctions that will have major impact on the manufacturer of the world's thinnest, flattest, and one most useful materials -- graphene.

As graphene's popularity grows as an advanced "wonder" material, the speed and quality at which it can be manufactured will be paramount. With that in mind,...

Im Focus: Exotic quantum states made from light: Physicists create optical “wells” for a super-photon

Physicists at the University of Bonn have managed to create optical hollows and more complex patterns into which the light of a Bose-Einstein condensate flows. The creation of such highly low-loss structures for light is a prerequisite for complex light circuits, such as for quantum information processing for a new generation of computers. The researchers are now presenting their results in the journal Nature Photonics.

Light particles (photons) occur as tiny, indivisible portions. Many thousands of these light portions can be merged to form a single super-photon if they are...

Im Focus: Circular RNA linked to brain function

For the first time, scientists have shown that circular RNA is linked to brain function. When a RNA molecule called Cdr1as was deleted from the genome of mice, the animals had problems filtering out unnecessary information – like patients suffering from neuropsychiatric disorders.

While hundreds of circular RNAs (circRNAs) are abundant in mammalian brains, one big question has remained unanswered: What are they actually good for? In the...

Im Focus: RAVAN CubeSat measures Earth's outgoing energy

An experimental small satellite has successfully collected and delivered data on a key measurement for predicting changes in Earth's climate.

The Radiometer Assessment using Vertically Aligned Nanotubes (RAVAN) CubeSat was launched into low-Earth orbit on Nov. 11, 2016, in order to test new...

Im Focus: Scientists shine new light on the “other high temperature superconductor”

A study led by scientists of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science in Hamburg presents evidence of the coexistence of superconductivity and “charge-density-waves” in compounds of the poorly-studied family of bismuthates. This observation opens up new perspectives for a deeper understanding of the phenomenon of high-temperature superconductivity, a topic which is at the core of condensed matter research since more than 30 years. The paper by Nicoletti et al has been published in the PNAS.

Since the beginning of the 20th century, superconductivity had been observed in some metals at temperatures only a few degrees above the absolute zero (minus...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Call for Papers – ICNFT 2018, 5th International Conference on New Forming Technology

16.08.2017 | Event News

Sustainability is the business model of tomorrow

04.08.2017 | Event News

Clash of Realities 2017: Registration now open. International Conference at TH Köln

26.07.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

New bioimaging technique is fast and economical

21.08.2017 | Medical Engineering

Silk could improve sensitivity, flexibility of wearable body sensors

21.08.2017 | Materials Sciences

On the way to developing a new active ingredient against chronic infections

21.08.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>