In the days of old, tasters were used to test food for poisons. Mostly employed by kings and other people of high standing, these ‘victims’ made sure that eatables passed the toxicity test by literally sacrificing their health and sometimes even their lives just so their masters could be assured of non-toxic fare. As time passed, fish were used to test food and water before being consumed by humans. While this method is no doubt very useful, current procedures can be time consuming and require equipment that not everybody can be privy to. To make matters far simpler, Tel Aviv University has introduced a device called ‘Dip Chip’ that can detect toxicity accurately and quickly using microbes.
Dip Chip contains microbes that can display a biological reaction to toxins which can greatly reduce time as well as negate the use of expensive equipment to detect poisons in food and water. This means that the device can be carried around by those who need to travel to far flung places.
The innovative tool converts the biological reaction of the microbes into a readable electronic signal. Once the kinks have been ironed out of the device, it will be able to be plugged into a mobile gadget to determine toxicity levels. According to Prof Yosi Shacham-Diamand of Tel Aviv University, the device immobilizes the specially-produced microbes near the sensing electrodes. When the organisms come into contact with something toxic, they generate a chemical signal which is then converted to an electrical current that can be read.
Dip Chip alerts the user to overall toxicity. That means that it can detect poisonous substances that may not have been invented or even discovered yet. A huge benefit to using the device is that it can be utilized by companies engaged in manufacturing cosmetics and even medicines.