The US Air Force, 711th Human Performance Wing, has developed a method and device to detect and differentiate biological particles, including bacterial endospores and various species of vegetative bacteria, from background particles like dust, pollen, smoke, diesel fuel, etc. Two-dimensional excitation-emission (EEM) graphs are obtained with a fluorometer by collecting a sample in powder or liquid suspension form and obtaining graphs both with and without UV irradiation. Comparing EEM graphs of known samples (E. coli as control) to samples from the environment, this method can be used to screen unknown materials including deadly endospores from Bacillus anthracis (anthrax).
Current methods involve collection of specimens from office buildings, homes or outdoor locations, and delivery to facilities with instruments that take several hours for analysis. People exposed to deadly endospores or other pathogenic bacteria could have significantly delayed medical treatment waiting for results.
- Preliminary classification of unknown particles: discrimination between several classes of micron-sized particles
- Fast: rapid, early quantitative identification of suspected biological threats
- Low cost: inexpensive to operate
- Sensitive: detects particles down to submicron size
- Easy to operate: little specialized training needed
- Potential 24/7 alarm system: device triggers an alarm when a potential biological threat is present
- Screening kit option: could be developed where there is a visible powder
- US Patent 8,362,435