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January 27, 2012 at 2:36 PMComments: 1 Faves: 0

Diabetes Sufferers May Soon Be Free of the Frequent Prick!

By E.M. Wollof from SLN More Blogs by This AuthorFrom the The Cold Boot Blog Series

Researchers at Brown University are working on a sensor that uses spit to measure blood sugar levels, effectively destroying the need for a constant prick of the finger and making over 26 million US residents very happy.

The Beauty of a Loogie

Through a complicated combination of nanotechnology and surface plasmonics, researchers are able to manipulate light to sense the analyte (the chemical component that gets measured in the experiment) present in the saliva sample. They did this by first carving a slit about 100 nanometers wide and then proceeded to cut two 200 nanometer wide grooves on either side of the slit. The slit is used to catch incoming photons (light) and confine them in a limited movement type loop, the grooves then take the free photons and scatter them across the surface of the sensor, forcing them to interact with the free moving electrons.

During this process, the electron-photon interaction creates what is called a surface plasmon polariton, a special wave that is tremendously narrow...even narrower than a photon in free space. These waves move freely across the surface of the sensor until they come into contact with the photons in the slit, creating a type of "interference" that can be measured and used to determine a minimum and maximum unit of measurement for light transferred through the slit. The presence of the analyte in the experiment (glucose in the case of a blood sugar level test) generates a distinct phase difference in the crashing of the waves, which, in turn, causes the light intensity to change. The researchers measure these changes in light to determine the presence/levels of measurable material.

Applications

I continue to be amazed by the current nanotechnology research being performed around the world. So often, research grants are given to companies that pursue pointless endeavors that serve as bandaids to gushing wounds, but these researchers push the limits of current tech capabilities and their own imaginations.

This sensor, so says the researchers, could have the capability of identifying an immeasurable number of substances, simply by them building sensors with the slits and grooves spaced differently. Best part of all? The research was performed by students. What an experience to be at the ground level of something like this at such a young age, can't wait to see what comes out of these brilliant minds in the future.

See you next week...

Sources:

http://news.cnet.com/8301-27083_3-57363076-247/new-biochip-measures-glucose-levels-in-saliva/

http://news.brown.edu/pressreleases/2012/01/plasmonic

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1 Comment

  • Nice blog! I feel like I read a news article on this before. But not as in-depth, which I appreciate so I know more the science behind it.

    Nice Header too: The Beauty of a Loogie. lol.

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