Laser Invention Detects Water-Borne Diseases

I came across a story from Singapore where a scientist  Professor Liu Ai Qun from Nanyang Technological University (NTU) has invented a device that can detect contaminants in treated water in just one hour, instead of the current two days. Now this sounds absolutely amazing and quite a breakthrough.

Professor Liu  reportedly uses laser-technology to manipulate light to detect bacteria in water and that eliminates the laborious process of testing water in the lab for two days.

I loved the name of this device – very appropriate – they called it the Parasitometer. It is a stand-alone device that can pick out a single bacteria cell out of a 10-litre drinking water sample.  This should certainly help in the fight against water-borne diseases. Professor Liu said the technology targets pathogens that can cause diarrhoea in humans.

Told you it sounded amazing. Read on…

Because it is so efficient at detecting bacteria and so quick, there are likely to be significant costs savings for such water tests (by about eight times!), as there’s no need for chemical reagents and lab facilities manned by trained personnel.

“We are able to identify cells by knowing their cell shape, the diameter and size, and their refractive index – how well they reflect light and let light through. We will be able to know what sorts of contaminants are found in the water sample, with up to 90 per cent accuracy, and this will definitely help water agencies worldwide when they need to perform tests and diagnostics of their water supply,” Professor Liu said. NTU said this is also the first time that a scientist has demonstrated how to manipulate and bend light in liquid, through the use of microfluidics.

A fellow NTU expert in optics and microfluidics, Associate Professor Claus-Dieter Ohl, said Prof Liu’s technology has strong potential for novel applications in other fields. These include instrumentation, signal processing and biomedical systems.


Nanyang-Technology-University,Laser Invention, articles.waterdesalinationplants.comNTU are not silly and they have named a new start-up company – Water Optics Technology to market and develop the Parasitometer as a commercial product.  It will be jointly owned by Professor Liu and NTU – now that is a nice thing to hear – the Uni will actually share proceeds with the inventor.

When the product becomes commercially available it is reported to be in the vicinity of  about S$15,000 (approx USD$11,800)


Watch this space…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *