A spectral transmission-reflectance-intensity (TRI) analyzer was developed that attaches to a smartphone and analyzes patient blood, urine, or saliva samples as reliably as clinic-based instruments. It is capable of performing thousands of current tests that may be adapted to the device, including an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) that detects and measures a wide variety of proteins and antibodies in blood, and is commonly used for a wide range of health diagnostics tests. The system is capable of detecting the output of any test that uses a liquid that changes color, or a liquid that generates light output (such as from fluorescent dyes).

The TRI Analyzer attaches to a smartphone and analyzes patient blood, urine, or saliva samples as reliably as clinic-based instruments.

The TRI Analyzer was demonstrated performing two commercially available assays — a test to detect a biomarker associated with pre-term birth in pregnant women, and the PKU test for newborns to indirectly detect an enzyme essential for normal growth and development. The test results were comparable to those acquired with clinic-grade spectrometer instrumentation.

The device operates by converting the smartphone camera into a high-performance spectrometer. Specifically, the analyzer illuminates a sample fluid with the phone’s internal white LED flash, or with an inexpensive external green laser diode. The light from the sample is collected in an optical fiber and guided through a diffraction grating into the phone’s rear-facing internal camera. These optical components are arranged within a 3D-printed plastic cradle.

The TRI Analyzer can simultaneously measure multiple samples using a micro-fluidic cartridge that slides through an opening in the back of the cradle. This ability to analyze multiple samples quickly and reliably makes the device suitable for patients who lack convenient access to a clinic or hospital with diagnostic test facilities, or for patients with urgent health situations requiring rapid results.

In addition to its applications in health diagnostics, the device can also be applied to point-of use applications that include animal health, environmental monitoring, drug testing, manufacturing quality control, and food safety.

For more information, contact Brian Cunningham at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.; 217-265-6291.


Tech Briefs Magazine

This article first appeared in the December, 2017 issue of Tech Briefs Magazine.

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