Stratophase reveals SpectroSens chip

A team of scientists working for Stratophase, a firm based in Southampton, United Kingdom, recently published a paper describing the technology used in the company’s SpectroSens chip, an optical micro device designed to detect pathogens and biochemicals.

The paper, which appears in the journal Biosensors and Bioelectronics, explains how the chip, when loaded into a monitoring device, can simultaneously identify up to 16 different health threats, such as ricin toxin and anthrax, according to

The chip functions by measuring light, which reflects in different wavelengths depending on environmental circumstances. Reflectors on the chip, called Bragg gratings, reflect one wavelength of light while letting others pass.

Interactions between identifiable antigens in a sample and respective immobilized antibodies on the chip result in changes in a refractive-index that allow the sample to be identified. Spores, viruses and toxins can all be identified in real-time, reports.

The company began the testing phase of the chip on harmless biological agents like Bacillus atrophaeus spores, Escherichia coli cells, MS3 viruses and albumin protein. Soon after, the team tested their new method on Bacillus anthracis spores, Vaccinia viruses and ricin toxin.

Soluble protein antigens gave a higher and earlier response than the bacterial and viral antigens, but all were successfully identified by the detector.