Researchers have come up with yet another application for the mobile phone, turning it into a food scanner.
After the recent research on a mood-sensing mobile phone application, here is an application that promises to protect your physical health. Some strains of Escherichia coli bacteria cause contamination of food and water, and can lead to epidemics of water-borne diseases.
Detecting this organism is a long and time-consuming procedure in the laboratory but now, you may be able to do it within a few minutes on your mobile phone. Researchers working at the University of California in Los Angeles have come up with a tiny device that can be attached to a cell phone to scan food for the presence of E. coli organisms.
The device functions on the same principle as a fluorescent microscope and is made of small glass tubes fitted with LED lights on both ends. The antibodies for E. coli are held close to the capillaries and trap the organisms that may be present in the food.
This is followed by several subsequent reactions that cause the emission of fluorescent light which activates the camera fitted on the cell phone to take pictures of the capillary tubes that bind the organism.
So far, the researchers have found the phone device is capable of detecting very low levels of E. coli present in samples of milk and water. Announcing this development, the team leader Hongying Zhu said:
“Our cell phone based platform would be very useful to bring advanced technologies to remote and resource poor locations.”
This study was published in the journal Analyst, a publication of the Royal Society of Chemistry.
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