Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Scientists Invent Real-life 'Tricorder' For Chemical Analysis

Date:
February 27, 2007
Source:
Purdue University
Summary:
Purdue University researchers have created a handheld sensing system its creators liken to Star Trek's "tricorder" used to analyze the chemical components of alien worlds. But the system could have down-to-earth applications, such as testing foods for dangerous bacterial contaminants including salmonella, which was recently found in a popular brand of peanut butter.

Researchers at Purdue have created a miniature mass spectrometer that promises to have applications in everything from airport security to medical diagnostics. Pictured here is a prototype, the Mini 10 portable mass spectrometer, which is roughly the size of a shoebox and can easily be carried with one hand. The instrument is 13.5 inches long by 8.5 inches wide by 7.5 inches tall and weighs 10 kilograms (22 pounds), compared to about 30 times that weight for a conventional mass spectrometer. It also can run on battery power. (Credit: Purdue News Service photo/David Umberger)
Credit: Purdue News Service photo/David Umberger

Purdue University researchers have created a handheld sensing system its creators liken to Star Trek's "tricorder" used to analyze the chemical components of alien worlds. But the system could have down-to-earth applications, such as testing foods for dangerous bacterial contaminants including salmonella, which was recently found in a popular brand of peanut butter.

The new portable system is an ultrafast chemical-analysis tool that has numerous promising uses for detecting everything from cancer in the liver to explosives residues on luggage and "biomarkers" in urine that provide an early warning for diseases.

The instrument is a miniature mass spectrometer combined with a technique called desorption electrospray ionization, or DESI. The device and technique were developed by a team of researchers led by R. Graham Cooks, the Henry Bohn Hass Distinguished Professor of Analytical Chemistry in Purdue's College of Science.

"Conventional mass spectrometers analyze samples that are specially prepared and placed in a vacuum chamber," Cooks said. "The key DESI innovation is performing the ionization step in the air or directly on surfaces outside of the mass spectrometer's vacuum chamber."

Unlike conventional mass spectrometers, which are cumbersome laboratory instruments that weigh more than 300 pounds, the new handheld device weighs less than 20 pounds and can be used in the field.

"We like to compare it to the tricorder because it is truly a handheld instrument that yields information about the precise chemical composition of samples in a matter of minutes without harming the samples," Cooks said.

The researchers at Purdue look for compounds that indicate the possible presence of a particular substance, such as cocaine or explosives residues. If these indicators are found, the equipment performs a more in-depth analysis to determine the exact chemical structure.

The research team has used the device to analyze clothes, foods and tablets, and to identify cocaine on $50 bills in less than 1 second.

Two startup companies have been established on the basis of DESI and the portable mass spectrometer: Prosolia Inc. in Indianapolis, has commercialized the DESI source, and Griffin Analytical Technologies LLC, in West Lafayette, Ind., has commercialized miniature ion trap mass spectrometers


Story Source:

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


Cite This Page:

Purdue University. "Scientists Invent Real-life 'Tricorder' For Chemical Analysis." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 27 February 2007. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/02/070227104038.htm>.
Purdue University. (2007, February 27). Scientists Invent Real-life 'Tricorder' For Chemical Analysis. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 24, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/02/070227104038.htm
Purdue University. "Scientists Invent Real-life 'Tricorder' For Chemical Analysis." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/02/070227104038.htm (accessed July 24, 2014).

Share This




More Matter & Energy News

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Robot Parking Valet Creates Stress-Free Travel

Robot Parking Valet Creates Stress-Free Travel

AP (July 23, 2014) 'Ray' the robotic parking valet at Dusseldorf Airport in Germany lets travelers to avoid the hassle of finding a parking spot before heading to the check-in desk. (July 23) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Boeing Ups Outlook on 52% Profit Jump

Boeing Ups Outlook on 52% Profit Jump

Reuters - Business Video Online (July 23, 2014) Commercial aircraft deliveries rose seven percent at Boeing, prompting the aerospace company to boost full-year profit guidance- though quarterly revenues missed analyst estimates. Bobbi Rebell reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Europe's Car Market on the Rebound?

Europe's Car Market on the Rebound?

Reuters - Business Video Online (July 23, 2014) Daimler kicks off a round of second-quarter earnings results from Europe's top carmakers with a healthy set of numbers - prompting hopes that stronger sales in Europe will counter weakness in emerging markets. Hayley Platt reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
9/11 Commission Members Warn of Terror "fatigue" Among American Public

9/11 Commission Members Warn of Terror "fatigue" Among American Public

Reuters - US Online Video (July 22, 2014) Ten years after releasing its initial report, members of the 9/11 Commission warn of the "waning sense of urgency" in combating terrorists attacks. Mana Rabiee reports. Video provided by Reuters
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:
from the past week

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