IIT Guwahati Researchers develop portable device to detect bacteria without lab tests

A team of researchers at Indian Institute of Technology, Guwahati (IIT-G) has developed portable diagnostic device to detect bacteria without cell culture or microbiological assays. Researchers team work has been patented as well as published in July 2019 issue of Journal of Materials Chemistry of Royal Society of Chemistry.

Key Highlights

Function: This hand-held device is well equipped to detect bacteria instantaneously without need for lab tests. The device has a bio-compatible sensor that can also diagnose time-critical illnesses such as meningitis. These rapid detection kits are like those used for blood sugar monitoring or pregnancy detection.

Working Principle: It is Organic Field Effect Transistor (OFET)based Bacteria Sensor (or Bacterial Diagnostic device) which has been shown to have ability to detect bacteria and distinguish between Gram positive bacteria (such as S pneumoniae) and Gram negative (such as the common E. coli) types. Currently detection of bacteria in body fluids is done in laboratories. OFET is an electronic device that works on principle that charges in vicinity of channels of certain semiconductors can induce a current in them. Therefore, charges on surface of bacterium, induces a current in OFET, which is registered and read.

OFET devices developed by IIT-G team consists of a unique and hybrid tri-layer dielectric system built on simple glass and flexible PET (a kind of plastic) substrates, and can operate at ultra-low operating voltages.

Need: Across the world bacterial infection is a common cause of morbidity and mortality and even despite development of a range of antibiotics, challenge continues to lie in diagnosing bacterial infection early on. Also,

Significance: Present techniques used are extremely time- consuming as cells derived from a patient are cultured or grown in laboratories to detect and microanalyse bacteria. However, this new portable device, can instantly detect charges on cell walls of bacteria.

Application: This research has enabled rapid detection of bacteria, which is not just important in healthcare but also in anti- bioterrorism measures as well as environmental monitoring.




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