Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

New line of defense against sexual assault: Researchers develop pocket-sized sensor to detect 'date rape' drugs

Date:
August 9, 2011
Source:
American Friends of Tel Aviv University
Summary:
Scientists have developed an easy-to-use sensor that, when dipped into a cocktail, will instantly detect the presence of a date rape drug. When ready for commercial purchase in just a few years, the sensor will be lightweight and discreet, easily transportable in a pocket or purse.

Smart women know it's wise to beware when out at a bar or club -- there could be more than just alcohol in that cocktail. Psychoactive substances classified as "date rape" drugs can be dropped into an unsuspecting victim's drink, rendering her barely conscious and susceptible to sexual assault.

Now Prof. Fernando Patolsky and Dr. Michael Ioffe of Tel Aviv University's Sackler Faculty of Exact Sciences have developed an easy-to-use sensor that, when dipped into a cocktail, will instantly detect the presence of a date rape drug. When ready for commercial purchase in just a few years, the sensor will be lightweight and discreet, easily transportable in a pocket or purse.

The researchers say the sensor can detect GHB and ketamine, the most commonly used date rape drugs, with 100 percent accuracy. The technology was recently presented at the Nano Conference 2011 in Israel.

Drug detection in one sip

Possessing both sedative and amnesiac effects, date rape drugs are increasingly slipped into drinks at parties, clubs and bars. With rates of drug-assisted sexual assault growing around the world, it's a dangerous social problem in desperate need of a solution, says Prof. Patolsky. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, some 200,000 women were raped in the US in 2007 with the aid of a date rape drug -- and because so many cases go unreported, the actual number is believed to be 80 to 100 percent higher.

Until now, the researchers explain, real time date rape drug detection has been impossible. No sensor sensitive enough to detect the drugs had been developed, and after a few hours, the drugs become undetectable in the human bloodstream, making their presence difficult to prove.

The new system works on simple optics principles, says Prof. Patolsky. Though date rape drugs are effective because they're colorless and tasteless when mixed into a cocktail, they do subtly change the optical properties of the drink. When a ray of light comes into contact with a drugged drink, a "signal change" occurs and the sensor sounds the alarm, which could be a beeping noise or a small flashing light in environments that are dark and loud.

To test the accuracy of the sensor, Prof. Patolsky and Dr. Ioffe had bartenders prepare a large number of the 15 most popular cocktails. Fifty of these drinks were randomly spiked with GHB, without the researchers' knowledge. When their test was conducted, each of the spiked drinks was correctly identified, and there were no false positives.

Only a tiny "sip" of one to ten microliters is required for the sensor to detect the presence of a date rape drug, Prof. Patolsky says.

Affordable personal protection

Researchers are now working on miniaturizing the system, making it easy and affordable for personal use. Each device, says Prof. Patolsky, might look like a pen or clip, easy to dip into a glass. A disposable cartridge inside, responsible for recognizing the presence of a drug, would be able to identify two to three spiked drinks before needing to be replaced -- and new cartridges would each cost under a dollar.

Dr. Ioffe is also hoping to widen the range of drugs that the sensor can correctly identify. "Currently," he says, "the system is geared towards detecting GHB and ketamine. We hope to expand the system so it will identify additional date rape drugs as well."

Moving forward, the researchers are looking to expand their investor base for the project. All elements of the system have been patented with Ramot at Tel Aviv University Ltd., TAU's technology transfer company.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by American Friends of Tel Aviv University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

American Friends of Tel Aviv University. "New line of defense against sexual assault: Researchers develop pocket-sized sensor to detect 'date rape' drugs." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 9 August 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/08/110809111818.htm>.
American Friends of Tel Aviv University. (2011, August 9). New line of defense against sexual assault: Researchers develop pocket-sized sensor to detect 'date rape' drugs. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 28, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/08/110809111818.htm
American Friends of Tel Aviv University. "New line of defense against sexual assault: Researchers develop pocket-sized sensor to detect 'date rape' drugs." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/08/110809111818.htm (accessed July 28, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Monday, July 28, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Deadly Ebola Virus Threatens West Africa

Deadly Ebola Virus Threatens West Africa

AP (July 28, 2014) West African nations and international health organizations are working to contain the largest Ebola outbreak in history. It's one of the deadliest diseases known to man, but the CDC says it's unlikely to spread in the U.S. (July 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
$15B Deal on Vets' Health Care Reached

$15B Deal on Vets' Health Care Reached

AP (July 28, 2014) A bipartisan deal to improve veterans health care would authorize at least $15 billion in emergency spending to fix a veterans program scandalized by long patient wait times and falsified records. (July 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Two Americans Contract Ebola in Liberia

Two Americans Contract Ebola in Liberia

Reuters - US Online Video (July 28, 2014) Two American aid workers in Liberia test positive for Ebola while working to combat the deadliest outbreak of the virus ever. Linda So reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating

Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating

AP (July 28, 2014) Classes are being offered nationwide to encourage African Americans to learn about cooking fresh foods based on traditional African cuisine. The program is trying to combat obesity, heart disease and other ailments often linked to diet. (July 28) Video provided by AP
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