Nanotechnology detects bacteria

Nanotechnology could be used to detect the presence of bacteria

Researchers have developed a technique that detects the presence of bacteria. A nano-lever is positioned so that it vibrates upon the tiniest movements of bacteria. A laser, which is fired at the lever, measures the time it takes for its own light to reflect. Upon vibration of the lever, this time changes and therefore the presence of bacteria can be detected.

This apparatus is currently matchbox sized and takes only minutes to detect bacteria. It’s hoped that further technological advances that would allow the laser to be replaced with an alternative tool of measurement could reduce it to the size of a microchip.

The device could potentially measure the effect of an antibiotic on many different strains of bacteria in a matter of minutes. In the future, it may be possible to quickly and accurately measure how a patient is reacting to treatment.

Lead image:

David Gregory and Debbie Marshall/Wellcome Images CC BY NC ND

About this resource

This resource was first published in ‘Nanoscience’ in June 2005 and reviewed and updated in August 2014.

Microbiology, Health, infection and disease, Biotechnology and engineering
Education levels:
16–19, Continuing professional development