Saturday, February 25, 2012

Inspector, what are you doing with that cell phone?

UCLA engineers devised a way of using a cell phone's camera as part of a portable e coli test rig. It is pretty small, but from the description it sounds like a one-shot deal: once the "antibody functionalized glass capillaries with quantum dots as signal reporters" have gotten their load of contaminated water for the camera to inspect, you either need to get fresh tubes or autoclave the old ones. Maybe they could devise a portable autoclave running off the cell-phone battery? Or maybe just rinsing thoroughly with distilled water is enough.

The general idea is nice, and the format is certainly extremely compact. I suppose a jewelers loupe would work as well for seeing the dots, but a cell phone camera is better for detailed inspection and for sending the image to somebody else. And if the resetting problem (cleaning it up after a use) is solved, it would be very handy.

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