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Wondering If You're Pregnant? There May Soon Be An App For That

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A smartphone app that can help determine if an individual is pregnant or not may soon be available. Scientists claim that with their new invention, people may be aided to monitor different types of body fluids, including saliva, urine, blood, sweat or breath, using a smartphone.

People may then subsequently detect their medical conditions, such as pregnancy or blood sugar alterations, with a few touches of the fingertips.

The researchers from the Hanover Center for Optical Technologies (HOT), University of Hanover in Germany have created a fiber optic sensor that can provide real-time readings coursed through smartphone apps and is said to have promising potential to conduct biomolecular examinations.

The technology used in this invention is called surface plasmon resonance, which refers to the mechanism under which electrons on the surface of a thin metallic film scramble when exposed to light. When a beam of flight is striked through the film, majority of the light is reflected; however, some of it get absorbed resulting in its resonance. The size and location of the absorbed band are altered when the liquid exhibits average refraction due to exposure to the metallic film. The specific identification of the specimen's composition may possible when refraction-modifying elements that target biomolecules and trace gases are added to the metallic film as the sensors can examine which of the light is reflected and which is absorbed.

Just how can this technology be incorporated in a smartphone? Surface plasmon resonance (SPR) is typically used for biosensing; however this necessitates the use of big devices including a light source and a light detector. But because smartphones both contain this, the scientists were able to incorporate their subtle invention, which is made up of multimode fiber that measures about 400 micrometer in diameter and a sensing area that is coated with silver.

"We have the potential to develop small and robust lab-on-a-chip devices for smartphones. So, surface plasmon resonance sensors could become ubiquitous now," said Kort Bremer, inventor and co-author of the research. Bremer worked alongside co-author Bernhard Roth, director of Hanover Centre for Optical Technologies (HOT), University of Hanover, Germany.

Bremer explained that he tested the device on a smartphone by cutting the polymer covering of the optics cable to expose the fiber core. He then put it in the silver coating and incorporated a small area where the liquid may be poured. Bremer also polished the fiber ends to 45 degree-angles. The device was then attached to the smartphone's case, particularly in the LED and camera. A diffraction grating was fasten to the camera to the light beam into an emission spectrum. The data collated may also be linked to GPS to allow smartphone users have access to the nearest hospital, drug store or emergency care service.

Photo: Maurizio Pesce | Flickr

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