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To improve dipstick diagnostic and environmental tests, just add tape

To improve dipstick diagnostic and environmental tests, just add tape

The chemical symbols for heavy metals appear when a new low-cost, tape-based sensor detects them in water or powder.

Simple paper-strip testing has the potential to tell us quickly what's in water, and other liquid samples from food, the environment and bodies—but current tests don't handle solid samples well. Now, an Australian Research Council (ARC) researcher, Professor Wei Shen from Monash University, and his international collaborators have developed a way to make these low-cost devices more versatile and reliable for analyzing both liquid and solid samples using adhesive tape. 

One of the best-known examples of a paper dipstick test is the home pregnancy test, which detects the presence of a particular hormone in urine. Pregnancy tests are known to be accurate, but many other paper-based sensors are not as reliable. Liquid samples can push the color indicator off the paper or outward toward the edges of the readout, making the results inaccurate or harder to read. When it comes to testing anything solid, such as food or soil, samples need to be processed into a liquid form.

Professor Shen, who recieved an ARC Discovery Projects grant in 2010 to develop a novel approach to low cost printable microsensors, and his colleagues have addressed some of these limitations and expanded paper-based sensor applications to analyze solids. They report their approach in the journal American Chemical Society (ACS) Applied Materials & Interfaces.

In addition to ARC support, the authors acknowledge funding from the Chinese Scholarship Council, and the Zhejiang International Science and Technology Cooperation Project.

Media issued by The American Chemical Society.

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