Tech Briefs Magazine - May 2022 - 28

Test & Measurement
Portable Device Detects Foodborne Illness
The device works with smartphones and laptops to do on-site testing for E. coli in food samples.
Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN
F
oodborne illness hits about one in
six people in the United States every
year from more than 31 recognized
pathogens including E. coli O157:H7,
a particularly harsh strain of E. coli. Researchers
have developed a bioluminescence-based
assay coupled with a portable
device that works with smartphones
and laptops to do on-site testing for
harmful E. coli in food samples.
The silicon photomultiplier (SiPM)
device uses low light from the bioluminescent
assay to detect the presence of
bacteria that cause foodborne illness in
food samples. They also created an electrical
circuit with an amplifier, comparator,
and microcontroller to send the data
to laptops and smartphones via Bluetooth
technology. They used 3D printing
to design a portable cradle for the SiPM.
To show the proof of concept, the team
tested the device with artificially contaminated
samples of ground beef from a
local grocery store. They injected E. coli
into the beef samples and then used the
device to analyze the sample within 10
hours of inoculation. The beef is rinsed
and incubated with an enrichment liquid
containing a modified phage, a virus for
bacteria. The phage then infects harmful
foodborne bacteria so that when a substrate
is added, the bacteria emit light,
which is detected by the SiPM. The device
is able to count light pulses or photons.
For more information, contact Chris Adam
at cladam@prf.org; 765-588-3341.
Researchers created a portable device to do onsite
testing for E. coli in food samples. (Photo:
Purdue University)
Handheld Measuring Device Distinguishes Between Methanol
and Potable Alcohol
The device offers a simple, quick method of detecting adulterated or contaminated alcoholic
beverages and is able to diagnose methanol poisoning in exhaled breath.
ETH Zurich, Switzerland
M
ethanol is sometimes referred to
as ethanol's deadly twin. While
the latter is the intoxicating ingredient
in wine, beer, and liquor, the former is
a chemical that becomes highly toxic
when metabolized by the human body.
Even a relatively small amount of methanol
can cause blindness or prove fatal if
left untreated.
Cases of poisoning from the consumption
of alcoholic beverages tainted with
methanol occur particularly in developing
and emerging countries because
alcoholic fermentation also produces
small quantities of methanol. Whenever
alcohol is unprofessionally distilled in
backyard operations, relevant amounts
of methanol may end up in the liquor.
Beverages that have been adulterated
with windshield washer fluid or other
liquids containing methanol are another
potential cause of poisoning.
28
The millimeter-sized black dot in the center of the gold section is the alcohol sensor. (Photo: Van
den Broek J et al. Nature Communications 2019)
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Tech Briefs, May 2022
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Tech Briefs Magazine - May 2022

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Tech Briefs Magazine - May 2022

Tech Briefs Magazine - May 2022 - Intro
Tech Briefs Magazine - May 2022 - Sponsor
Tech Briefs Magazine - May 2022 - Cov1
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