Science: Nanotechnology barcodes to identify biological weapons

img BladeRunner material code You might still remember the scene from the movie Blade Runner when Harrison Ford with the help of a chemist and the serial number on microscopic scale finds out what type of material he is looking at. It seems we got just one step closer to be able to do something similar today.

Scientists at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) recently developed a novel bio-sensing platform that uses engineered nanowires for biochemical tests.

The team, led by LLNL and including researchers from Stanford University, the UC-Davis Center for Biophotonics and Nanoplex Technologies, used multi-striped metallic nanowires like nano-barcodes to rapidly identify bio-warfare agents ranging from anthrax, smallpox and ricin to botulinum. The entire test series can be performed within 3–4 h.

The core of this portable bio-weapon-recognition system consists of two parts: Nanowires built from sub-micrometer layers of different metals, including gold, silver and nickel, produce patterns that are similar to “barcodes” found on products worldwide.

The other part is an assortment of antibodies, which are essentially glued to the nanowires. Each type of pathogen calls for a unique antibody which is attached to the nanowires unique “barcode” for each antibody type.

The reflection pattern and fluorescence from each stripe sequence can later be clearly recognized, similar to a barcode on a retail product.

…In the end you will have a pool of various striped nanowires, each of which will have a unique antibody assigned to it, which is to detect for that particular pathogen…” says Jeffrey B.-H. Tok, a researcher at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL).

via: NanoWerk

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