The sensor contains a specific, artificially fabricated DNA molecule that reacts when it meets cocaine. In seconds, the molecule turns from a floppy, formless shape into a rigid structure. When adding a blood or saliva sample contaminated with cocaine to the sensor, the change can be instantly measured by sending electrons through the DNA and seeing how they travel.
"The sensor can be built into a portable, handheld platform, and (the test) can be done here, in real time, within a few minutes, not a few hours," said Alan Heeger, a physics professor and Nobel Prize winner, who is part of the research team.
The testing device can be built from existing, inexpensive electronics. Heeger said the sensor is a major improvement on today's drug tests, where a sample of blood or urine has to be separated into its components before drugs can be identified.
Sensor instantly detects cocaine in blood - New York Times
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