Crystal listens for telltale sounds of virus | Science News

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Crystal listens for telltale sounds of virus

2:48pm, August 29, 2001

After successfully testing a device that can hear the movement of a single virus from a drop of fluid, researchers envision a handheld instrument that could detect viral illnesses such as foot-and-mouth disease and Ebola.

The investigators suggest that their acoustic detector could be quicker and more economical than current assays used to identify viruses in blood, saliva, and other bodily fluids. Many of those tests employ expensive enzymes and take days to perform.

The new device depends upon a small piece of quartz crystal similar to the billions of crystals used every year in televisions, VCRs, computers, and phones. The researchers coat one surface of their coin-size quartz disk with antibodies specific to whatever virus they want to detect.

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