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Dust-sized chips can detect bio attack

Researchers at the University of California, San Diego developed dust-sized chips of silicon that detect biological and chemical agents, including substances a terrorist might dissolve in drinking water or spray into the atmosphere.

The development, detailed in an advance online publication Tuesday of the Oct. 1 issue of the journal Nature Materials, could have wider commercial use in research and medical laboratories.

Using a laser similar to a grocery scanner, it could be used as an advanced warning system for biological and chemical attacks. The chips could be dispersed into a cloud of gas to detect toxic chemicals or biological materials. Michael J. Sailor, a professor of chemistry and biochemistry at UCSD, led the research effort.

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