By 2030 mobile biosensors will be widely in use facilitating personalised healthcare. Such systems will build on the most inspiring inventions of today. For instance, researchers have developed and built an app and docking cradle that uses the phone’s own in-built camera and processor to convert it into an accurate mobile biosensor, turning $200 in optical components into the equivalent of a $50,000 lab spectrophotometer. A cradle containing optical filters and lenses more likely to be found in big and expensive lab systems holds the phone’s camera in correct alignment with the optical components.
A microscope slide, coated with photonic material (which reflects just a single wavelength of light while passing the rest of the spectrum through it) and primed to react to a specific target molecule, is inserted into the cradle, allowing the device to measure the spectrum of the sample on the slide. The spectrum is then re-measured, which allows the device to calculate the degree of shift between the sample and a control, and the degree of shift indicates the amount of the target molecule found in the sample.
This portable biosensor is capable of detecting viruses, bacteria, proteins, toxins, and other specific modules, and takes just a few minutes to process, which could greatly speed up in-the-field assessments of issues as diverse as groundwater contamination, medical diagnostics, mapping the spread of pathogens, or tracking contaminants in the food system.
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