NRL researchers have developed a fiber-optic biosensor that uses antibodies, lectins, and antibiotics on the surface of an optical fiber to achieve selectivity. The system is particularly well adapted to detect environmental pollutants and hazardous chemical or biological materials.
The fiber-optic biosensor is a device that measures the formation of a fluorescent complex at the surface of an optical fiber. Antibodies, lectins, and antibiotics provide the mechanism for recognizing an analyte of interest and immobilizing a fluorescent complex on the fiber surface. The biosensor is fast, sensitive, and permits analysis of hazardous materials remote from the instrumentation. A portable sensor has been manufactured and tested on-site for detection of explosives in groundwater. Antibodies coated on the fiber are stable for up to two years of storage prior to use. The biosensor has been developed to detect explosives, pollutants, pathogens, and toxic materials.