Handheld Spectral Analyzer Uses Power of Smartphone to Detect Disease

University of Illinois

August, 2017
Handheld Spectral Analyzer Uses Power of Smartphone to Detect Disease
The spectral transmission-reflectance-intensity (TRI)-Analyzer attaches to a smartphone and analyzes patient blood, urine, or saliva samples as reliably as clinic-based instruments that cost thousands of dollars.

Engineers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have developed a technology that enables a smartphone to perform lab-grade medical diagnostics that would typically require large, expensive and dedicated instruments. Relatively low-cost, the spectral transmission-reflectance-intensity (TRI) Analyzer attaches to a smartphone and analyzes patient blood, urine, or saliva samples with reliability equal to clinical instruments that cost thousands of dollars more.

“Our TRI Analyzer is like the Swiss Army knife of biosensing,” said Brian Cunningham, the Donald Biggar Willett Professor of Engineering and director of the Micro + Nanotechnology Lab at Illinois. “It’s capable of performing the three most common types of tests in medical diagnostics, so in practice, thousands of already-developed tests could be adapted to it.”

The TRI Analyzer operates by adapting the smartphone camera into a high-performance spectrometer. The analyzer illuminates a sample fluid with the phone’s internal white LED flash or with an inexpensive external green laser diode. The light from the sample is then collected in an optical fiber and guided through a diffraction grating into the phone’s rear camera. These optical components are all arranged within a simple 3-D-printed cradle.

Their device can simultaneously measure multiple samples by using a microfluidic cartridge that inserts into an opening in the back of the cradle, allowing it to analyze multiple samples quickly and reliably. This makes the TRI Analyzer a suitable solution for patients who lack convenient access to diagnostic test facilities, and can be applied to field applications such as environmental monitoring, drug testing, and food safety.

To learn more about this device, click here.

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