This chemical sensing chip can detect cocaine and costs less than ₹ 7

  • The cocaine sensing chip can allow on-the-spot testing for the drug.
  • The raw materials for the chip cost less that seven rupees.
Researchers at the University of Buffalo, New York have fabricated a new, low-cost chemical sensing chip which can detect cocaine.

This chip can be further integrated into a handheld, portable device in samples of blood, urine or spit and could serve as on the spot drug test. This is a step closer to a device that could test for cocaine, opioids and marijuana as quickly as a breathalyzer identifies alcohol.

This chip was able to detect cocaine within minutes of the experiment. Further, the researchers will even use this to detect other opioids and even marijuana. The chip could be manufactured with raw materials that cost less than seven rupees. The technology has a long shelf life, with researchers finding that it performed well after a year in storage.

The new chip is an engineered nanostructure that traps light on gold and silver nanoparticles. When biological or chemical particles land on the chip’s surface, some of the captured light interacts with the molecules and is “scattered” into new light patterns. This effect occurs in unique patterns that act as fingerprints, revealing information about what compounds are present.

The chip could speed up drug testing procedures in countries, including India. It also has obvious benefits for authorities, who will be able to conduct on the spot tests for more drugs.

The researchers said that the next step in their research is to install the chip in a simple, portable testing device. The device would first run blood, breath, urine or saliva through a purification process, extracting specific molecules, such as cocaine or other drugs. Then, any chemicals captured through this procedure would be transferred to the chip for detection and identification.
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