Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Cornell Scientists Put Their 'Stamp' On A New Device To Seek Out Deadly Bacteria In Food Or The Environment

Date:
April 8, 1998
Source:
Cornell University
Summary:
Cornell University researchers have merged the fields of nanofabrication and biology to produce a simple but effective means to detect harmful bacteria. New biosensors can detect minute quantities of bacteria, from the slaughterhouse to the restaurant, and send up a red flag when there's a problem.

ITHACA, N.Y. -- Detecting potentially deadly bacteria in food, the water supply or on the battlefield before it does damage has never been reliable or fast enough to prevent death, illness or economic loss. As just one example, last year a Columbus, Neb., beef-processing plant was forced to recall 25 million pounds of hamburger when less than a speck of bacteria was detected.

Related Articles


But now Cornell University researchers have merged the fields of nanofabrication and biology to produce a simple but effective means to detect harmful bacteria. New biosensors can detect minute quantities of bacteria, from the slaughterhouse to the restaurant, and send up a red flag when there's a problem.

The biosensors, developed by Harold Craighead, professor of applied and engineering physics, in collaboration with Carl Batt, professor of food science, are simple in concept and arose from technology that is the mainstay of the microelectronics industry. The sensors capture bacteria in a regular, repeating pattern and, similar to the UPC bar code used in a supermarket, can be read using a laser beam.

"It's like a printing press," says Batt. "By stamping antibodies on the surface, the bacteria will be bound to the sensor, and they then form a pattern that can be read with a laser. It is a very fast, direct method for detecting bacteria."

The research is reported in the latest issue of Analytical Chemistry (March 15). The senior author on the paper with Batt and Craighead is Pamela St. John, a former postdoctoral fellow at Cornell. The other authors are Robert Davis, a Cornell postdoctoral fellow, John Czajka, a recent graduate student in food science, and Nathan Cady, an undergraduate in biology.

Using Cornell's nanofabrication facility, the researchers made small-scale rubber stamps imprinted with diffraction gratings, which are the patterns of the lines of bacteria-seeking antibodies. In this case the Cornell team targeted E. coli O157:H7, a deadly pathogen that has been linked to deaths resulting from the contamination of tainted hamburger. These patterns were then stamped on the surface of silicon, the same material used in computer chips, providing a sticky surface for bacteria to cling to.

To detect E. coli on the sensor, the silicon chip was illuminated with a laser, and the laser light was diffracted at a particular angle. The more bacteria bound to the silicon surface, the greater the diffraction intensity.

The researchers say that this gives an instant reading of the level of bacterial contamination. The laser reader, they say, could be incorporated into a simple, hand-held device to be used anywhere that bacteria are a contamination threat. Similarly, the silicon chips could be placed at strategic points on a food production line or other sensitive area and tied to a central computer to monitor bacterial contamination.

The use of nanotechnology to create a specific pattern on the surface of the silicon, say the researchers, is a demonstration of how methods developed in the microelectronics industry will have a broad impact on biological problems. "This is just one example of the possible use of nanofabrication technology for biological applications," says Craighead.

Batt points to the enormous challenge of detecting bacteria at every stage in the food processing industry. "As history has shown us, if a small colony of bacteria gets into the system, the cost, both in health and economic terms, can be enormous," he says. He notes that hospital-borne infections, battlefield threats, even community-acquired infectious disease are also applicable to this new biosensor technology.

"Bacterial contamination takes thousands of lives, sickens millions and costs the health care industry billions of dollars a year," says Batt. "If we had an early warning system, such as these biosensors could provide, we would be aware of the problem and able to attack it much more efficiently."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Cornell University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Cornell University. "Cornell Scientists Put Their 'Stamp' On A New Device To Seek Out Deadly Bacteria In Food Or The Environment." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 8 April 1998. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1998/04/980408081821.htm>.
Cornell University. (1998, April 8). Cornell Scientists Put Their 'Stamp' On A New Device To Seek Out Deadly Bacteria In Food Or The Environment. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 20, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1998/04/980408081821.htm
Cornell University. "Cornell Scientists Put Their 'Stamp' On A New Device To Seek Out Deadly Bacteria In Food Or The Environment." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1998/04/980408081821.htm (accessed November 20, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Health & Medicine News

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Ebola Crisis Affecting US Adoptions

Ebola Crisis Affecting US Adoptions

AP (Nov. 20, 2014) The Sanborn family had hoped they'd be able to bring home their 5-year-old adopted son from Liberia by now. But Ebola has forced them to wait. The boy is just one of thousands of orphans in West Africa who've been impacted by the deadly virus. (Nov. 20) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Why You Should Give A Crap About World Toilet Day

Why You Should Give A Crap About World Toilet Day

Newsy (Nov. 19, 2014) It's World Toilet Day. While pooping is the subject of potty humor in the West, it's a serious and sometimes deadly issue in underdeveloped countries. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Texting Is Like Adding 60 Pounds To Your Spine

Texting Is Like Adding 60 Pounds To Your Spine

Newsy (Nov. 19, 2014) According to a new study, people who slump over to text can be adding as much as 60 extra pounds to their spine and neck. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Trans-Fat Foods Now Linked To Poor Memory

Trans-Fat Foods Now Linked To Poor Memory

Newsy (Nov. 19, 2014) A study presented at the American Heart Association Scientific Sessions shows a link between diets high in trans fats and decreased memory recall. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins