Navigation Links
Researchers improve technology to detect hazardous chemicals

Scientists at Imperial College London have developed a system to quickly detect trace amounts of chemicals like pollutants, explosives or illegal drugs.

The new system can pick out a single target molecule from 10 000 trillion water molecules within milliseconds, by trapping it on a self-assembling single layer of gold nanoparticles.

The team of scientists, all from the Department of Chemistry at Imperial, say this technology opens the way to develop devices that are compact, reusable and easy to assemble, and could have a range of uses including detecting illegal drugs, explosives, pollutants in rivers or nerve gases released into the air. Results of the research are published this week in Nature Materials.

In one potential use, such a device could detect tiny traces of explosives or other illegal substances left behind by criminals on the surfaces they touch. The advances made by this team would help law enforcers to identify and deal with such activities involving illegal substances.

Research co-author, Michael Cecchini, said: "Our system could solve a key problem of reliable and portable chemical testing for use in the outside world. It is very sensitive and could well be used to look for very small amounts of a specific molecule even in busy, public areas."

The target molecules are identified by an effect called Surface Enhanced Raman Scattering (SERS) of light. This technique, which has been around since the late 1970's, works because each molecule scatters light in a unique way. Previous research has shown that the signal can be amplified by catching molecules in a particular way on a layer of metal nanoparticles. However, these sheets are complex to manufacture.

The scientists overcame this problem by dealing with interfaces of two liquids that do not mix, such as water and oil, or water and air interface. By manipulating the electrical charge of the gold nanoparticles and the composition of the solution, they were able to create a situation where the particles line themselves up at the interface between the two non-mixable liquids, or between a liquid and the air.

"The trick to achieving this system's sensitivity to the target molecules was in finding the conditions at which nanoparticles would settle at the interface at close distances to each other without fusing together", commented another co-author Jack Paget.

If the nanoparticles are disturbed, they spontaneously arrange themselves back in the correct way make the device more robust than those made rigidly arranged particles. Research co-author, Vladimir Turek, said: "The system shows real promise for detectors for use in rough outdoor environmental and defence applications, since the liquids and nanoparticles can be easily replaced to regenerate the device."

Contact: Simon Levey
Imperial College London

Related biology technology :

1. New England Biolabs Introduces Polbase, an Information Repository of Scientific Data for Polymerase Researchers
2. In new quantum-dot LED design, researchers turn troublesome molecules to their advantage
3. Multidisciplinary team of researchers develop world’s lightest material
4. Researchers shrink tumors and minimize side effects using tumor-homing peptide to deliver treatment
5. Innovative MetaMorph® NX Software Shatters Barriers Between Researchers and Image Analysis Goals with Exclusive Visual Workflow
6. UCLA researchers demonstrate fully printed carbon nanotube transistor circuits for displays
7. Penn and Brown researchers demonstrate earthquake friction effect at the nanoscale
8. Two Top Biological Imaging Centers Offer Powerful Free Online Tool to Researchers, Educators, and Public
9. Researchers develop one of the worlds smallest electronic circuits
10. MU researchers identify key plant immune response in fight against bacteria
11. Researchers realize high-power, narrowband terahertz source at room temperature
Post Your Comments:
Related Image:
Researchers improve technology to detect hazardous chemicals
(Date:10/12/2017)... ... October 12, 2017 , ... DuPont Pioneer and recently formed ... entered into a multiyear collaboration to identify and characterize novel CRISPR-Cas nucleases. The ... gene editing across all applications. , Under the terms of the agreement, Pioneer ...
(Date:10/12/2017)... ... October 12, 2017 , ... ... with the addition of its newest module, US Hemostats & Sealants. , SmartTRAK’s ... hemostats, absorbable hemostats, fibrin sealants, synthetic sealants and biologic sealants used in surgical ...
(Date:10/12/2017)... ... October 12, 2017 , ... ... first-ever genomics analysis platform specifically designed for life science researchers to analyze ... pioneering researcher Rosalind Franklin, who made a major contribution to the discovery ...
(Date:10/11/2017)... ... October 11, 2017 , ... The ... endogenous context, enabling overexpression experiments and avoiding the use of exogenous expression plasmids. ... is transformative for performing systematic gain-of-function studies. , This complement to loss-of-function ...
Breaking Biology Technology:
(Date:4/13/2017)... 2017 According to a new market research report ... Identity Administration, and Authorization), Service, Authentication Type, Deployment Mode, Vertical, and Region ... expected to grow from USD 14.30 Billion in 2017 to USD 31.75 ... ... MarketsandMarkets Logo ...
(Date:4/6/2017)... April 6, 2017 Forecasts by ... Document Readers, by End-Use (Transportation & Logistics, Government & ... Gas & Fossil Generation Facility, Nuclear Power), Industrial, Retail, ... Are you looking for a definitive report ... ...
(Date:4/3/2017)... 2017  Data captured by IsoCode, IsoPlexis ... a statistically significant association between the potency ... and objective response of cancer patients post-treatment. ... whether cancer patients will respond to CAR-T ... as to improve both pre-infusion potency testing and ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):