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Novel use for graphene found -- detecting brain disorders

IANS  |  Bengaluru 

Graphene, a form of carbon and the super-strong, ultra-light material discovered in 2004, enables flexible electronic components, enhances solar cell capacity, and promises to revolutionise batteries. Now scientists have added one more use to this list.

They have found a potential new application of this wonder material for detecting (ALS). a for which there is currently "no objective diagnostic test". This novel use is described in the scientific journal & Interfaces of the

is characterised by rapid loss of motor neurons controlling skeletal muscles, leading to

"We have a new exciting work on the application of that may one day be used to test for and other neurodegenerative diseases", Bijentimala Keisham, a PhD candidate working under Vikas Berry, Associate at the in Chicago (UIC), told this in an email.

consists of a single layer of carbon atoms arranged in a hexagonal lattice, each atom bound to its neighbours by The elasticity of these bonds produces resonant vibrations, known as phonons.

Graphene's use to detect exploits its ability to change these resonant vibrations in a very specific and quantifiable way when an extraneous molecule is introduced into the lattice, says the report. The foreign molecule affects the vibrational energies of and the changes can be "accurately mapped using Raman spectroscopy", a technique commonly used in to provide a structural fingerprint by which molecules can be identified.

In their study the UIC team found a distinct change in the vibrational characteristics of graphene when Cerebro-Spinal Fluid (CSF) -- found in the brain and the spinal cord -- from patients with ALS was added to it. The researchers carried out the test using the CSF from 13 people with ALS; three people with (MS) and three people with an

"The changes in graphene's phonon vibration-energies -- as measured by -- were unique and distinct," Keisham said. "These distinct changes accurately predicted what kind of patient the CSF came from - one with ALS, or no "

The authors, however, add this strategy does not analyze the Raman signal of the CSF but rather "looks at the change in the Raman signal from interfaced graphene".

"In summary, we demonstrate a robust system to investigate ALS by using graphene," says the report. "The results suggest that our graphene platform can be used not only to potentially diagnose ALS, but also to monitor its progression and in the future, to study the efficacy of therapeutics," it says.

"Based on our analysis, it can be concluded that this ultrasensitive platform can efficaciously differentiate although the exact cause for these differences is beyond the scope of this study," the authors conclude.

(K.S. Jayaraman is a He can be contacted at <mailto:killugudi@hotmail.com>)

--IANS

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(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Sat, December 15 2018. 12:02 IST
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