Enhanced Humans

A Silicon Chip That Can Spot Dangerous Pathogens in Human Blood

  • There are growing concerns within the medical community over the emerging threat of resistant pathogens that, if left unchecked, could lead to the premature death of 300 million people by 2050.
  • Surface-enhanced Raman scattering (SERS) may provide a solution to these problems. A new highly efficient multifunctional platform was created by embedding silver nanoparticles into a silicon wafer.
  • Human blood spiked with e-coli or staph was deposited onto the chip to determine whether SERS could distinguish between the harmful pathogens and surrounding blood cells. They found that the SERS chip could detect both pathogens down to concentrations of a few hundred colony-forming units per millilitre. Following detection, the chip killed the bacteria through the slow release of silver anions from the surface.

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