SEP 26, 2018 11:47 AM PDT

Musical Instrument-inspired Chemical Sensor

WRITTEN BY: Daniel Duan

The connections between art and science are everywhere. To find them one needs a pair of curiosity-driven eyes, or ears. According to a recent article in the journal ACS Omega, a team of bioengineers at the University of California, Riverside found a way to turn a 3,000-year-old African musical instrument known as mbira into an audio frequency-based chemical sensor. 

The ancient device is made of a wooden board attached with a handful metal tines, which play musical notes when strummed. The researchers replaced the tines with hollow steel tube. To test a chemical solution, one simply fills the tubing with a sample and records the sound produced from tube plucking with a smartphone. A frequency analysis software developed in their laboratory then can accurately identify and measure the concentration of the test compound. 

In the study, the researchers successfully distinguished diethylene glycol and glycerol, two structurally related chemicals that are sometimes mistaken for each other. They also managed to detect samples of counterfeit and adulterated drugs, which have a significant impact on healthcare in many developing countries. 

Source: ACS via Youtube

About the Author
  • Graduated with a bachelor degree in Pharmaceutical Science and a master degree in neuropharmacology, Daniel is a radiopharmaceutical and radiobiology expert based in Ottawa, Canada. With years of experience in biomedical R&D, Daniel is very into writing. He is constantly fascinated by what's happening in the world of science. He hopes to capture the public's interest and promote scientific literacy with his trending news articles. The recurring topics in his Chemistry & Physics trending news section include alternative energy, material science, theoretical physics, medical imaging, and green chemistry.
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