Mitochondria powers new explosives detector

November 24th, 2008 - 5:05 pm ICT by ANI  

Washington, Nov 24 (ANI): Scientists have borrowed the technology that living cells use to produce energy, namely mitochondria, to develop a tiny, self-powered sensor for rapid detection of hidden explosives.

The experimental sensor, about the size of a postage stamp, represents the first of its kind to be powered by mitochondria, the microscopic powerhouses that provide energy to living cells, according to the researchers.

In the new study, researchers Shelley Minteer, Marguerite Germain, and Robert Arechederra, from Missouri, US, point out that todays explosives detectors are expensive, bulky, and complex.

They suggest that the society needs smaller, cheaper, simpler detection devices, based on technology that perhaps could be incorporated into cell phones and portable digital music players.

The scientists have developed an experimental sensor built from a special biofuel cell, essentially a battery-like device consisting of a thin layer of mitochondria sandwiched between a carbon-based electrode and a gas-permeable electrode.

In laboratory studies using nitrobenzene as a test compound, the sensor showed a significant boost in electrical power in the presence of the substance, demonstrating the sensors potential for detecting TNT and related explosives, the researchers said. (ANI)

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