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New 'optofluidic' technology taps power of diatoms to improve sensor performance

Researchers at Oregon State University have combined one of nature’s tiny miracles, the diatom, with a version of inkjet printing and optical sensing to create an exceptional sensing device that may be up to 10 million times more sensitive than some other commonly used approaches. A patent has been approved on the new ‘optofluidic’ technology, and the findings published in the journal Nanoscale. When implemented in working devices, this approach might improve biomedical sensing of cancer biomarkers; be used for extraordinarily precise forensics work; save the lives of military personnel in combat situations; detect illegal drugs; or help tell whether organic food is really pesticide free or not. The enormous sensitivity and low cost of the technology may have endless applications, researchers say, ranging from health monitoring to environmental protection, biological experiments and other uses.”

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