Sometimes technology developed for one application turns out to be great for another. The world is full of beneficial accidents like this. Methylene blue, a dye, turns out to be a useful aid to microbiology and medicine. Ultrasound turns out to be useful for therapy, not just imaging.
Other times, a development is so fundamental that it turns out to be useful in practically everything, such as James Clerk Maxwell’s insights into electromagnetism. The ability to manipulate single atoms has given humans the ability to custom-tailor individually point-flawed diamonds imbued with the characteristics — and only the characteristics — that they desire. And now our ability to handle individual carbon atoms could give us an advantage in the war against diseases like HIV.
We recently covered a piece of slick materials engineering from Spain that you may recall: a silicon-based biosensor-on-chip that could detect HIV in body fluids within seven days of exposure. And it was capable of detecting the virus at orders of magnitude lower concentrations than ELISA. But that’s silicon. We could be using point-doped graphene to accomplish these goals. Stud a flake of graphene with active sites that can grab viral particles, and all of a sudden you have a diagnostic test that only looks for one pathogen because it’s physically incapable of reacting with anything else.
The full story is available below.