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Raman effect to detect fraudulent paintings, diseases, chemical weapons

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New York: An international research team has developed nanotechnology that harnesses surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy (SERS) to detect amounts of molecules in fraudulent paintings, diseases, chemical weapons and more.

Led by University at Buffalo (UB) engineers, the new method makes SERS simple and more affordable.

“The technology we’re developing – a universal substrate for SERS – is a unique and, potentially, revolutionary feature,” said lead author Qiaoqiang Gan from UB.

“It allows us to rapidly identify and measure chemical and biological molecules using a broadband nanostructure that traps wide range of light,” Gan added.

The universal substrate can trap a wide range of wavelengths and squeeze them into very small gaps to create a strongly enhanced light field.

“It acts similar to a skeleton key. Instead of needing all these different substrates to measure Raman signals excited by different wavelengths, you’ll eventually need just one. Just like a skeleton key that opens many doors,” co-author Nan Zhang said.

Traditional substrates, or the silicon surfaces on which liquid samples are deposited, are typically designed for only a very narrow range of wavelengths.

This is problematic because different substrates are needed if scientists want to use a different laser to test the same molecules.

In turn, this requires more chemical molecules and substrates, increasing costs and time to perform the test. The new technology has a wide range of applications.

“The ability to detect even smaller amounts of chemical and biological molecules could be helpful with biosensors that are used to detect cancer, malaria, HIV and other illnesses,” the researchers said.

“This could be helpful detecting forged pieces of art as well as restoring ageing pieces of art,” Gan said.

“Also, the technology could improve scientists’ ability to detect trace amounts of toxins in the air, water or other spaces that are causes for health concerns. And it could aid in the detection of chemical weapons,” he added.

The study was published in the journal Advanced Materials Interfaces. (IANS)

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Maths Could Help Understand The Spread of Infectious Diseases

Fear of public pathogens may end up driving the wrong type of behaviour if the public's information is incorrect.

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Maths can help reveal how human behaviour spreads infectious diseases
Maths can help reveal how human behaviour spreads infectious diseases. Flickr

Researchers have found that maths could help public health workers understand how human behaviour influences the spread of infectious diseases like Ebola and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS).

Current models used to predict the emergence and evolution of pathogens within host populations did not include social behaviour.

But adding dynamic social interactions to the new model could allow scientists to better prevent undesirable outcomes, such as more dangerous mutant strains from evolving and spreading.

“We tend to treat disease systems in isolation from social systems, and we often don’t think about how they connect to each other or influence each other,” said Chris Bauch, Professor at Waterloo University in Canada.

Injection and medicines
he team used computer simulations to analyse how the mathematical model behaved under various possible scenarios. Pixabay

“This gives us a better appreciation of how social reactions to infectious diseases can influence which strains become prominent in the population,” Bauch added.

In the study, published in the Journal of Theoretical Biology, the team used computer simulations to analyse how the mathematical model behaved under various possible scenarios.

They observed that human behaviour often changes dramatically during the outbreak, for instance, they might start using face masks.

Also Read: Cholera Infection May be on Edge in Yemen, Says WHO

Also, fear of public pathogens may end up driving the wrong type of behaviour if the public’s information is incorrect.

The new modelling could help public responses navigate and better channel these kinds of population responses, the researchers said. (IANS)

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