the solution. The interaction between the gold nanoparticles and melamine causes a dramatic color change indicating the presence of melamine. When melamine is present, the color of the solution changes from red to blue within seconds and can be measured both by visual inspection and spectrophotometry. Cyanuric acid, which has a specific reaction with melamine, is introduced sequentially to increase specificity. If melamine is present, a precipitant is formed, which can also be assessed both visually and by spectrophotometry.
"This method provides a unique opportunity to use the highly sensitive detection properties of nanoparticles to prevent people from being harmed by melamine ingestion," says Dean Ho, assistant professor in the Departments of Biomedical and Mechanical Engineering, and at the Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center at Northwestern University and co-corresponding author of this study "It's important to utilize nanoparticles that can be manufactured in high yield, which makes it possible to have a method that can be widely used."
In the future, the researchers hope to develop a commercial simple kit that can be used by the layperson, at home or in the field, to detect melamine contaminant in food.
"Our method provides not only an alternative method to the current lab based detection, but also a way for early screening of milk, especially for field work and for developing countries," says Fang Wei, staff research associate in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, at the University of California, Los Angeles and first author of this study.
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