Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Ready... or Not? Diagnostic Lab in Pill or Smartphone

Photo credit: Lingyu Hong
Princeton University researchers have successfully adapted microchip technology to function as a biosensor and identify viral infections or diagnose blood disorders. The new microchip technology replaces costly diagnostic labs and skilled technicians using “complex and bulky optical instrumentation”.

“The new system is almost as small as a grain of salt, and far less costly to manufacture than current diagnostic systems.”

Explained Kaushik Sengupta, an assistant professor of electrical engineering and one of the project's leaders, "All smartphones carry a million-pixel camera. How do we turn this into a device that allows laboratory-quality diagnostics?"

"When you combine these massively scalable optics with a billion transistors in a same chip, a whole new set of possibilities opens up. To make things so small, we had to do them in a fundamentally different way," Sengupta said.

Because the tiny structures are built in the silicon chip, the researchers said the system can be mass produced and does not require detailed assembly in a lab. Sengupta said the ability to quickly and cheaply manufacture the device will be critical to the eventual production of new sensing equipment.”

"Once we make the diagnostics cheaper," says Sengupta, "we can enable diagnostics in the developing world. And it's not just diagnostics. What we have come up with here is just a low- cost, tiny fluorescent sensor, and you can use fluorescent sensing in many different things: for food- and water-quality monitoring, environmental monitoring, and industrial applications."

Ah, yes... these are the days, my friend, these are the days... of a smartphone diagnostic lab.

Please go here for the rest of the story….

Shrinking a medical lab to fit on a fingertip, Bennett Mcintosh, Princeton University,, 2 Apr 2019.

Mary Hopkin - Those Were The Days - 1968

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