Graphene-based device to catch drug cheats

Scientists have created a new graphene-based device that can detect even trace amounts of performance enhancing drugs in an athelete’s blood samples.

Researchers from the University of Manchester and Aix-Marseille University, have created a device which potentially can see one molecule though a simple optical system and can analyse its components within minutes. This uses plasmonics - the study of vibrations of electrons in different materials.

The breakthrough could allow for rapid and more accurate drug testing for professional athletes as it could detect the presence of even trace amounts of a substance. It could also be used at airports or other high-security locations to prevent concealment of explosives or stop traffickers from smuggling drugs.

Researchers believe graphene could truly find its place with new devices and materials yet to be invented. The researchers, lead by Dr Sasha Grigorenko, suggested a new type of sensing devices: artificial materials with topological darkness. The devices show extremely high response to an attachment of just one relatively small molecule.

This high sensitivity relies on topological properties of light phase. To test their devices, researches covered them with graphene.  Testing for toxins or drugs could be done using a simple blood test, with highly-accurate results in minutes.

The researchers found that the sensitivity of their devices is three orders of magnitude better than that of existing models.The study was published in the journal Nature Materials.

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