If there is bacteria-contaminated food in a store or kitchen, the sooner the authorities know, the sooner the better, according tomedia New Atlas. That’s why scientists have created a device that can detect harmful bacteria in the field rather than in the lab. This portable 3D printing tool was developed by a team led by Dr. Euiwon Bae and Professor Bruce Applegate of Purdue University in Indiana. It is called a silicon photomultiplier or SiPM.
The user first rinses the food sample, adds a proprietary “concentration” and then leaves the sample in the solution for incubation. The liquid contains specially modified phages, a virus that infects bacteria. If there are any harmful bacteria in the sample, the phages will infect them.
The researchers then add another chemical that makes the infected bacteria glow. SiPM is able to calculate a single photon (light-transmission particle) and send data via Bluetooth to a smartphone or laptop. The device then advises the user on the number of bacteria present in the sample.
In tests of the technique, scientists inoculated store-bought beef with E. coli bacteria. After 10 hours, when using SiPM to analyze the meat, it successfully detected microorganisms. “Our detection methods offer higher sensitivity, lower costs, better portability, and other obvious advantages over existing detection methods,” Applegate said. “
A paper on the study was recently published in the journal Applied Optics.