PhD Student in Physical Engineering At École Polytechnique de Montréal
Award-winning publication: Label-free bacteria detection using evanescent mode of a suspended core terahertz fiber
Published in: Optics Express, vol. 20, no 5, 2012, p. 5344-5355
"We propose for the first time an E. coli bacteria sensor based on the evanescent field of the fundamental mode of a suspended-core terahertz fiber. The sensor is capable of E. coli detection at concentrations in the range of 104-109 cfu/ml. The polyethylene fiber features a 150 µm core suspended by three deeply sub-wavelength bridges in the center of a 5.1 mm-diameter cladding tube. The fiber core is biofunctionalized with T4 bacteriophages which bind and eventually destroy (lyse) their bacterial target."
Using environmental scanning electron microscope, the student-researcher demonstrates that E. coli is first captured by the phages on the fiber surface. After 25 minutes, most of the bacteria is infected by phages and then destroyed with ~1μm-size fragments remaining bound to the fiber surface. The bacteria-binding and subsequent lysis unambiguously correlate with a strong increase of the fiber absorption. This signal allows the detection and quantification of bacteria concentration. Presented bacteria detection method is label-free and it does not rely on the presence of any bacterial "fingerprint" features in the THz spectrum.