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UGA researchers develop rapid diagnostic test for pathogens, contaminants
Date:7/19/2012

Athens, Ga. Using nanoscale materials, researchers at the University of Georgia have developed a single-step method to rapidly and accurately detect viruses, bacteria and chemical contaminants.

In a series of studies, the scientists were able to detect compounds such as lactic acid and the protein albumin in highly diluted samples and in mixtures that included dyes and other chemicals. Their results suggest that the same system could be used to detect pathogens and contaminants in biological mixtures such as food, blood, saliva and urine.

"The results are unambiguous and quickly give you a high degree of specificity," said senior author Yiping Zhao, professor of physics in the UGA Franklin College of Arts and Sciences and director of the university's Nanoscale Science and Engineering Center.

Zhao and his co-authorsdoctoral students Jing Chen and Justin Abell and professor Yao-wen Huang of the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciencesused nanotechnology to combine two well-known techniques and create their new diagnostic test. Their results appear in the early online edition of the journal Lab on a Chip and were recently presented at the SPIE Defense, Security and Sensing conference.

The first component of their two-in-one system uses a technique known as surface enhanced Raman spectroscopy, or SERS, which measures the change in frequency of a laser as it scatters off a compound. Every compound displays a series of distinctive changes in frequency, or Raman shifts, that are as unique as a fingerprint. The signal produced by Raman scattering is inherently weak, but Zhao and his colleagues have arrayed silver nanorods 1,000 times finer than the width of a human hair at a precise angle to significantly amplify the signal. In previous studies with Ralph Tripp in the UGA College of Veterinary Medicine and chemist Richard Dluhy in the Franklin College, they demonstrated that the use of SERS with silver nan
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Contact: Yiping Zhao
zhaoy@physast.uga.edu
706-542-7792
University of Georgia
Source:Eurekalert  

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