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Groundbreaking Technology Detects Microplastics with Unprecedented Sensitivity

In this post:

  • Tiny plastic particles pose significant risks to human health and the environment due to their widespread presence in the food chain and the environment.
  • The innovative microplastics detection technology developed is in the form of a kit, making it suitable for on-site applications.
  • The AI system was trained on the unique Raman spectroscopy signals of microplastics.

In a groundbreaking achievement, a research team led by Dr. Ho Sang Jung of the Department of Nano-Bio Convergence at the Korea Institute of Materials Science (KIMS), in collaboration with the KOTITI Testing & Research Institute, has developed a revolutionary technology capable of rapidly and highly sensitively detecting microplastics (MPs). 

These tiny plastic particles pose significant risks to human health and the environment due to their widespread presence in the food chain and the environment. The research results were recently published in the prestigious journal Advanced Functional Materials.

Kit-based technology revolutionizes microplastics detection

The innovative microplastics detection technology developed by the research team is in the form of a kit, making it suitable for on-site applications. Unlike existing methods that require complex pre-treatment and high-performance equipment, this kit-type technology simplifies the process. In just 20 minutes, the technology can identify the type, number, and distribution of microplastics without any pre-treatment.

The key to this breakthrough lies in a plasmonic material designed as a nanopocket, capable of capturing microplastics on the surface of a paper filter with microscale pores. This nanopocket amplifies the optical signal of the captured microplastics, enabling highly sensitive detection. When a sample solution containing microplastics is injected through a syringe, the Raman spectral signal of the microplastics is magnified on the nanopocket-type plasmonic material, allowing for precise detection at both micro and nanometer scales.

AI enhances detection accuracy

To further enhance the accuracy of microplastics detection, the research team incorporated artificial intelligence (AI) into the system. The AI system was trained on the unique Raman spectroscopy signals of microplastics, enabling it to distinguish microplastics signals from potential interference in the sample. This advancement enables accurate identification of microplastics in complex environments or human samples, including determination of their concentration, distribution, and type.

One of the distinguishing features of this technology is the use of a portable Raman spectrometer for detection. This portable device significantly increases the feasibility of on-site detection, eliminating the need for extensive laboratory equipment and highly skilled researchers. The combination of the kit-based technology and the portable spectrometer provides a practical solution for identifying microplastics in real-world scenarios.

Microplastic pollution has become a pressing concern globally, with reports of these minuscule plastic particles being released from everyday products such as beverage containers and snack bags. However, until now, there has been no method to detect microplastics at the micro or nano size, underscoring the urgent need for reliable detection methods.

The development of this cutting-edge technology is significant, as it not only addresses current environmental and health concerns but also has the potential to pave the way for future regulations on plastic products and food and beverage containers. Detecting and quantifying microplastics with precision is a critical step towards mitigating their harmful effects on both the environment and human health.

Promising implications for wider adoption

Dr. Ho Sang Jung, the senior researcher at KIMS who spearheaded this groundbreaking development, expressed optimism about the technology’s potential impact. He stated, “If this technology is commercialized, the technology for detecting microplastics universally will be more easily and rapidly disseminated.” Dr. Jung emphasized KIMS’s commitment to developing material technologies for the safety of current and future generations.

The research team plans to collaborate with the KOTITI Testing & Research Institute to standardize the microplastics detection technology. This collaboration is a crucial step towards ensuring the reliability and consistency of the technology’s results, essential for widespread adoption and regulatory acceptance.

Furthermore, the research team is actively engaged in ongoing research to detect microplastics by size and assess their toxicity to the human body. This additional research will provide a deeper understanding of the risks associated with microplastics and contribute to more comprehensive mitigation strategies.

Disclaimer. The information provided is not trading advice. Cryptopolitan.com holds no liability for any investments made based on the information provided on this page. We strongly recommend independent research and/or consultation with a qualified professional before making any investment decisions.

 

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