Public Lab Research note

Mobile E coli detector created for cell phones by UCLA researchers

by joywager | April 02, 2012 07:59 02 Apr 07:59 | #1596 | #1596

Food borne sickness is seriously unpleasant, though it isn't always fatal. However, experts from UCLA have a solution, which uses a mobile phone to help catch the bugs. The machine, which attaches to the back of a phone, can identify E. coli bacteria from samples. Article resource: UCLA scientists create E coli detector attachment for cell phones

Stay away from food poisoning

One of the most common food-borne illnesses is an infection brought on by the Escherichia Coli bacteria, commonly called E. coli, the bulk of which comes from the E. coli O157:H7 strain. According to the CDC, this strain, along with some other strains of E. coli, produces the shiga toxin, which is what makes individuals sick when they get infected by shiga-producing strains of the bacteria. E. coli outbreaks can be fatal in some cases. A lot of people never know they have it since the symptoms, such as nausea, diarrhea and vomiting, can be attributed to anything including a visit from one’s in-laws. However, due to the danger, one needs to do all they can to ensure they do not eat contaminated food, and it turns out that some experts from UCLA have developed an accessory for that.

[A companion app for the device would need ingenious app developers to be done right]

Buy the additional small device for the application

Ordinarily, one needs a laboratory in order to identify E. coli, but some scientists from UCLA, according to the Daily Mail, have developed a system that clips on to the back of a cellular phone or on top of the phone’s camera. The gadget has on-board batteries that power it. It works by dripping liquid samples of whatever the user wishes to test for E. coli, which are pumped into tiny glass tubes, called capillaries, with LED lights at one end and a solution emulsified with quantum-dot E. coli antibodies. Quantum dots, put as simply, are tiny semi-conductors; if E. coli is detected in the sample, it conducts currents to the LEDs, lighting them up. Then, according to the abstract on UCLA’s website, a second lens housed in the gadget, which fits between the capillaries and the cell phone camera, magnifies the image so a picture can be taken by the phone’s camera.

May not get to production

The gadget was only recently reported in Analyst, a journal of the Royal Society of Chemistry. That said, according to L.A. Weekly, it’s only a proof-of-concept; it is not known if it is close to or even will make it into production. Similar devices such as CellScope, according to Popular Science, have been developed. CellScope is essentially a battery-powered microscope which similarly connects to the back of a cell phone, over the camera, and images are taken and sent using the phone and camera. It has obvious use as a diagnostic tool and has already undergone some field testing in Africa.


Daily Mail


LA Weekly

Popular Science:

Centers for Disease Control:


i am curious for this project.. how does it work? any suggestion please

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