The broader impact/commercial potential of this I-Corps project is to improve food safety and reduce the incidents caused by food-borne pathogens. This project will: (i) help ensure that the U.S. food supply is safe by providing food facilities and consumers with effective diagnostics tools, (ii) advance the commercialization of a portable food monitor, and (iii) provide timely protection against consumer microbial hazards and eliminate unnecessary product recalls. This sensor will directly benefit society by providing a new diagnostic tool that may empower users to take control of the safety of the food they consume.
This I-Corps project will further develop a biosensor technology that functions via a synergy between conducting poly (amic) acid (PAA) and metal nanoparticles. Nano-sized nanoparticles have a high electron affinity and can strip off electrons from the surrounding PAA matrix. The technology is designed to detect the 'notorious five' pathogens namely, Salmonella, E. coli, Norovirus, Staphylococcus epidermidis and Listeria (Sensal) all within 5 minutes at 5 colonies forming unit/mL or less. Unlike enzymes, DNA or lipids, the recognition ligands are more robust and specific for the pathogen. The biosensor device is similar to a glucose strip. When samples containing the pathogens are exposed to the strip, concentration-dependent recognition results in visible color change on the membrane strips indicating positive results for E.coli or other pathogens.