Researchers at Tel Aviv University (TAU) have developed a nano-sized laboratory, to measure water quality in real time, which is an enormous leap forward in the detection of pollutants.
According to a report in ENN (Environmental News Network), the "lab on a chip" was developed by a team led by Professor Yosi Shacham-Diamand, vice-dean of TAU's Faculty of Engineering.
It is a breakthrough in the effort to keep water safe from pollution and bioterrorist threats, pairing biology with the cutting-edge capabilities of nanotechnology.
"We've developed a platform, essentially a micro-sized, quarter-inch square 'lab', employing genetically engineered bacteria that light up when presented with a stressor in water," said Professor Shacham-Diamand.
Equipment on the little chip can work to help detect very tiny light levels produced by the bacteria.
"Instead of using animals to help detect threats to a water supply, our system is based on a plastic chip that is more humane, much faster, more sensitive and much cheaper," said Prof. Shacham Diamand.
According to Shacham Diamand, "Basically, ours is an innovative advance in the 'lab on a chip' system.
"It's an ingenious nano-scale platform designed to get information out of biological events. Our solution can monitor water with never-before-achieved levels of accuracy.
But as a platform, it can also be used for unlimited purposes, such as investigating stem cell therapies or treating cancer," he said.
The nanolabs can be used to evaluate several biological processes with practical applications, such as microbes in water, stem cells, or breast cancer development.