Ordinarily, it takes two to five days to determine if harmful bacteria are present in a patient's biological samples. Within that time, any infection that's present could get much worse. A newly-developed biosensor, however, is capable of analyzing samples on the spot.

Presently in prototype form, the compact and inexpensive device was created by scientists at Canada's University of British Columbia, Okanagan, working with colleagues from the University of Calgary.

It works by sending a 2.5-GHz microwave signal through a biological fluid sample contained within a microfluidic channel. By analyzing changes in the resonant amplitude and frequency of that signal, the sensor is able to both identify any bacteria, and measure their concentration within the sample.

When tested on fluid samples containing varying concentrations of Escherichia coli (E. coli) bacteria at different pH levels, it produced accurate readings almost instantly.

A paper on the research, which was led by Asst. Prof. Mohammad Zarifi, was recently published in the journal Nature Scientific Reports.

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