Project Summary
Food borne illnesses are a widespread and growing health problem. The biggest problems with conventional pathogen detection methods are speed and sensitivity. Conventional culture methods are time consuming and laborious and can take 2-7 days to yield results.

Biosensors are powerful tools which incorporate one or more biological elements to selectively detect a wide range of chemical substances. Biosensor technology is very exciting because it shows great potential in providing cost-effective, highly accurate, and specific detection of pathogens in real time.

I investigated one type of biosensors, the conductometric biosensor, for the detection of Salmonella, a common food-borne pathogen. Based on my research, I designed and built a conductometric biosensor from scratch with readily available materials. I invented a way to construct copper wafer with copper snail tape and copper wires on microscope slides. I also prepared individual membranes for my biosensors.

I conducted pure-culture and mixed-culture test experiments to confirm the working of my biosensors.  Based on the test results, I conclude that my biosensor is effective in rapid detection of Salmonella at concentrations from 103 to 106 CFU/ml. The detection time is less than 15 seconds.  My biosensor is sensitive; the lower detection limit of my biosensor lies between 102 to 103 CFU/ml. My biosensor is specific; it can detect the target pathogen in the presence of non-target pathogen with the same level of sensitivity.

Since biosensors are portable, they are ideal to be used at home as well as point-of care facilities to monitor our environment, water and food safety.


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