“Conventional drug detection generally use techniques that require long operation time, sophisticated experimental procedures, and expensive equipment with well-trained professional operators; moreover, they are not usually portable,” says Joon Hak Oh, head of The Oh lab for organic electronics laboratory at Pohang University of Science and Technology.
Joon Hak Oh’s research team has solved all of these problems, apparently. And the result is portable test – and an app – that together can detect amphetamines in urine within seconds, whilst only costing $50 to make.
The new test uses a wireless sensor along with an app to detect amphetamines in urine samples. And it has a lot of advantages – it is portable, wearable, economical to produce and accurate.
Here’s how it works: the sensor for the test is coated with a molecule that in turn traps amphetamine molecules inside it. When this happens, the sensor will send a wireless signal to a specifically-designed app that will tell you the test has detected the drug.
Long term, we’re looking at these being used alongside breathalyzsers – that’s why the sensor was made so small it could fit on a bracelet. Of course, further testing in clinical settings is needed before that happens.
The researchers say the test has “unprecedented sensitivity” for amphetamines.
The Oh lab, which specialises in sensors, teamed up with molecular recognition specialist Kimoon Kim for the test.
“We believe that the combination of molecular recognition and organic electronics is very powerful and will greatly contribute to the development of accurate, sensitive, and inexpensive sensors beyond the limits of existing methods,” adds Kim.
“There are many important, real-world areas where sensors are required, such as environmental monitoring, healthcare, detection of dangerous substances, safety issues, and so on. We are currently conducting further research in this direction.”