Millions of illnesses and more than 1,000 deaths every year in the U.S. are attributable to foodborne illness caused by known pathogens, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Conventional methods to screen food to find sickness-causing microbes can take as long as 24 hours, which is often too slow to efficiently catch tainted products before they hit store shelves. Faster methods exist, but have limitations. Magnetic resonance, for example, can detect extremely low levels of bacteria, but loses its effectiveness at higher bacteria concentrations. Fluorescence is the opposite.
Tuhina Banerjee, Santimukul Santra and colleagues wanted to see if they could combine the two techniques to make a better detector.
The researchers developed a hybrid nanosensor incorporating magnetic resonance and fluorescence.