You know, I was actually thinking to myself just the other day, bent over the trashcan for the third time in just two hours after dining at a certain South College eatery: “We can put a man on the moon, but we can’t come up with a ‘tricorder”-type device or a bacteria-sniffing wand or something that scans for Salmonella and such in real-time?”
So a hearty, healthy War Eagle to Auburn doctoral student Yating Chai and his team of food poisoning-hating geniuses for their recently revealed “real-time biosensing system to detect pathogenic bacteria.”
Unlike traditional methods, which require 48 to 72 hours and involve taking a sample of food, getting the sample to grow, and testing the growth, the Auburn system employs something called a magnetoelastic biosensor. The sensor, which has been studied for several years now, is based on a wireless acoustic wave sensor platform, which is a fancy way of saying that it vibrates at a very specific resonance. When a bacterium attaches itself to the sensor, the change in mass causes the sensor’s resonant frequency to change accordingly.
Chai and Co. have already filed for a patent for their E. Coli-exposing breakthrough. And the way they talk makes you think that you, not just food industry white coats, could be soon be scanning scampi your own self.
“Would you like some more tea?”
“No, but I would like less Shigella.”
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As a current Auburn biology student taking Microbiology right now, this made me way more fascinated and excited than I should have been. But really, though, how cool is that? Growing and testing bacterial cultures is the pits.