New Ultra Sensitive Sensor Device Helps Detect Drugs and Doping

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Less Expensive Sensor Can Catch Athletes Using Performance Enhancing Drugs

A new light-trapping device is making a breakthrough in tracing out performance-enhancing drugs in blood samples and tiny particles of explosives in the air.

The sensor which was developed by a University of Buffalo-led team of engineers is more sensitive, less expensive, and more versatile compared to previous technology used in infrared absorption spectroscopy.

Qiaoqiang Gan, PhD, associate professor of electrical engineering at the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences at UB, and the study’s lead author, shared the efficacy of the new technology.

Gan said, “This new optical device has the potential to improve our abilities to detect all sorts of biological and chemical samples.”

Infrared absorption spectroscopy is a commonly used approach in detecting substances thought to enhance an athlete’s performance and bomb components.

Co-authors of the study – which will be featured on the cover of September’s Advanced Science News – in Gan’s lab include Dengxin Ji, Alec Cheney, Nan Zhang Haomin Song and Xie Zeng, PhD. Additional co-authors come from Fudan University and Northeastern University, both in China, and the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

How It Works

The sensor works with light in the mid-infrared band of the electromagnetic spectrum. This part of the spectrum is used for most remote controls, night-vision, and other applications.

The sensor can trap light that will help detect performance enhancing drug by using the process known as surface-enhanced infrared absorption (SEIRA) spectroscopy. The sensor, which acts as a substrate for the materials being examined, boosts the sensitivity of SEIRA devices to detect molecules at 100 to 1,000 times greater resolution than previously reported results.

The increase makes SEIRA spectroscopy comparable to another type of spectroscopic analysis, surface-enhanced Rama spectroscopy (SERS), which measures light scattering as opposed to absorption.

The SEIRA advancement could be useful in any scenario that calls for finding traces of molecules. This includes but is not limited to drug detection in blood, bomb-making materials, fraudulent, and tracking diseases.

A high-jump athlete.

Mina Fabulous follows the news, especially what is going on in the US State Department. Mina turns State Department waffle into plain English. Mina Fabulous is the pen name of Carmen Avalino, the NewsBlaze production editor. When she isn’t preparing stories for NewsBlaze writers, she writes stories, but to separate her editing and writing identities, she uses the name given by her family and friends.