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February 13, 2006 - Scientists at Georgia Tech have employed reusable hydrogel micro lenses (one million can fit onto a one-inch plate) for use in the detection of biological or chemical agents.
The micro lenses, when exposed to the antigen they are set to detect, swell up and become less dense. By viewing an image through these micro lenses, scientists can confirm the detection of a given antigen since the lenses change in focal length as they swell and distort an originally clear image. According to L. Andrew Lyon, a Georgia Tech professor, the micro lenses can be used again and again, a first for micro lenses.
Through this process, the Georgia Tech scientists have managed to reduce what normally take hours of testing into seconds. The small, reusable system could also be implemented into portable handheld devices. Such technology is especially valuable for authorities investigating a possible biological or chemical weapon attack on location, where seconds and minutes can mean the difference between life or death. Scientists at Georgia Tech also envision the technique developing into faster blood tests conducted right in doctors’ offices, rather than analyzed over days while patients wait for lab results to return.
A full explanation of the research will appear in Angawandte Chemie’s February 20th issue.
For more information on Georgia Tech’s work in reusable hydrogel micro lenses go to: