You can print just about anything these days, including organs, electronics, and now even biosensors. Researchers at McMaster University are using a FugiFilm Dimatix inkjet printer to create biosensor strips that can test for toxins in the environment, by changing color in a manner similar to a pregnancy test. Physorg.com reports:
An ink [is composed of] biocompatible silica nanoparticles is first deposited on paper, followed by a second ink containing the enzyme, and the resulting bio-ink forms a thin film of enzyme that is entrapped in the silica paper. When the enzyme is exposed to a toxin, reporter molecules in the ink change color in a manner that is dependent on the concentration of the toxin in the sample.
If the printer ever makes it out of the research lab and into the market, the applications are seemingly endless: The biosensor can be used to detect food poisoning, identify if there’s a bioterrorist attack, or even be used to purify water.
Image: flickr/ scalibur001