Researchers claim to have created a handheld spectral analyzer device which enables smartphones to perform on-demand medical testing that would normally require large, expensive equipment.
The device comes from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and cost the researchers who developed it only $550, according to a press release from the institute.
The spectral transmission-reflectance-intensity analyzer, or TRI Analyzer, was developed to be attached to a smart phone and analyze patient blood, urine or saliva at a level which compares to clinic-based instrumentation.
“Our TRI Analyzer is like the Swiss Army knife of biosensing. It’s capable of performing the 3 most common types of tests in medial diagnostics, so in practice, thousands of already-developed tests could be adapted to it,” Univ. of Illinois Micro + Nanotechnology Lab director Donald Willett said in a press release.
Data from a study of the device was recently published in the journal Lab on a Chip.
The team at the Univ. of Illinois said that while the device was initially designed to perform 2 tests from commercially available assays, a number of diagnostic tests could be adapted for the point-of-care smartphone device.
“The TRIAnalyzer is more of a portable laboratory than a specialized device,” lead author and doctoral student Kenny Long said in a prepared statement.
The TRI Analyzer operates by converting the associated smartphone’s camera into a high performance spectrometer, illuminating a sample of fluid with the smartphones white LED flash, or an inexpensive external green laser diode. Light from the sample is collected through an optical fiber and guided through a diffraction grating into the phone’s rear-facing internal camera.
The system can also measure multiple samples through the use of microfluidic cartridges designed to slide through an opening in the back of a 3D printed cradle specially designed for the system.
“Our Analyzer can scan many tests in a sequence by swiping the cartridge past the readout head, in a similar manner to the way magnetic strip credit cards are swiped,” Long said.