Joined: 16 Mar 2004
|Posted: Tue Aug 19, 2008 12:01 pm Post subject: Polish Nano-Detectors will help in Space Research
|Polish Nano-Detectors will help in Space Research
The Polish prototype device for detecting live organisms in samples, which has been designed by a team of scientists from the Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznan (currently in collaboration with the Karol Marcinkowski Medical University), has been noticed by representatives of the European Space Agency (ESA) and the space industry.
Various possibilities for applying different types of nano-detectors in space and on Earth were presented by scientists from the Laboratory for Materials Physicochemistry and Nanotechnology at the Adam Mickiewicz University Chemistry Department during an international conference on applying micro- and nanotechnologies in space organised by ESA.
The Nano-biodetector is a miniature sensor which can detect various types of cells (including bacterial) in analysed samples. It requires only 30 seconds - the length of an average TV advertisement - to do so.
The sensor's detector is made from nanofibres. "At the European Space Agency conference organised in Noordwijk, we presented the possibilities of applying our nanodetectors, including a system, which enables determining the microbiological purity, i.e. the amount of bacteria, which remain on the surface of devices, which are to be sent into space. This system may be useful in the space industry" - explained Prof. Jerzy J. Langer, head of the Laboratory for Materials Physicochemistry and Nanotechnology.
Spaceship elements are devoid of bacterial flora, so as to limit the contamination of space. This is extremely important in the case of missions to Mars, where one of the aims is searching for traces of life (e.g. the ExoMars mission planned for 2013).
The methods determining the effectiveness of sterilising the devices and their elements (which cannot be sterilised using the most effective methods due to the fact that they are electrical appliances) were usually based on "traditional" time-consuming microbiology or modern, therefore expensive and equally time-consuming, molecular biology methods. The common feature of these tests is taking samples through washing the surface with a sterile fluid and analysing its content in search of micro-organisms.
A similar system informing about the amount of bacteria which has been killed by physical or chemical factors during sterilisation, based on the nano-biodetector, is much simpler and cheaper. It is also extremely small - the detective element can be fitted in the head of a pin.
Various Space agencies, including the Spanish INTA, are interested in this solution. The Laboratory for Materials Physicochemistry & Nanotechnology in Srem is already making preparations to commence collaboration.