Nanotechnology system could protect water supply from bioterror attack

Researchers are currently working on a nanotechnology-based detection system that could protect the nation's water supply from a terrorist attack.

Scientists from DINAMICS, a project cofounded by the European commission, have created a chip device that is capable of monitoring drinking water and spotting pathogens at very low concentrations, according to

The chip uses sensors armed with small strands of different pathogenic DNA that have been integrated to their surface. The DNA in the sensors will only bind with corresponding DNA and, using a process called chemiluminescence, will light in the presence of pathogens. The reactions can then be read by computer.

DINAMCS researchers have also developed a sensor array that changes a pathogen's DNA into electrical impulses. The impulses magnitude is proportional to the quantity of pathogenic DNA found in the water sample.

The goal of the research is to eliminate the process of bringing the samples to a laboratory for analysis, since the device is part of a mobile detection system.

The DINAMICS project was scheduled to last until the end of March and, if it becomes widely available, has the potential of significantly improving water safety, whether alone or in conjunction with other sensor equipment.