Researchers have developed a fast, cost-efficient tuberculosis test that can be read using a smartphone. The team combined gold nanoparticles with fluorescent single-stranded DNA sequences that bind to the genetic material of TB-causing bacteria, Mycobacterium tuberculosis. These nanoparticles were then incorporated into a paper-based device. If the smallest amount of M. tuberculosis is detected on the device, the color of the test spots changed within an hour. A smartphone camera is then used to analyze the color change to determine the bacterial concentration. Study authors say that this type of test is essential for world regions with limited resources in order to achieve a timely diagnosis.


Tsung-Ting Tsai, Chia-Yu Huang, Chung-An Chen, Shu-Wei Shen, Mei-Chia Wang, Chao-Min Cheng, and Chien-Fu Chen

Corresponding author:

Chien-Fu Chen, Institute of Applied Mechanics, National Taiwan University, Taipei, Taiwan, Email:

Original paper published in ACS Sensors on September 13, 2017.