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News Link • Bioterrorism

Bicycle Reflectors Detect Bioterrorism


Led by Richard Willson of the University of Houston, scientists from the University of Texas and Sandia National Laboratories are developing an ultrasensitive, all-in-one device that utilizes retroreflectors to rapidly tell first-responders exactly which disease-causing microbe has been deployed in a bioterrorism attack.

Additionally, the scientists are also developing technology intended for use in doctors’ offices and clinics where retroreflectors could provide a rapid, on-site diagnosis of common infectious diseases before patients leave, thus eliminating the wait for test results.

Researchers were able to design retroreflectors so small that 200 would fit in the dot over the letter “i.” These microfabricated retroreflectors were given a biochemical surface capable of detecting pathogens, effectively making them a lab-on-a-chip, with minute channels that can process small amounts of blood or other fluids.

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