Most flu/virus tests today are either time-consuming or incredibly inaccurate. The most accurate technique is called PCR, where a sample is taken, stored for a few days, its RNA is replicated, and then two weeks later, the results arrive. At that point it could be too late to halt an epidemic.
However, with the gold nanoparticle test, the results can be found out immediately, and the patient can be treated right away without spreading it to more people. Created by a team at the University of Georgia headed by Ralph A. Tripp, the test takes advantage of gold nanoparticle’s ability to scatter light in drastically different ways, depending on its geometry. The scientists attached the nanoparticles to antibodies that bind specifically to the flu virus. When the particles surround the virus, their geometry changes and they disperse light differently, making it clear that the virus is present. All the doctor has to do is take a fluid sample and mix it with a gold nanoparticle filled solution. If the virus is present, the solution will scatter light in a measureable pattern. Not only is the test quick, it’s inexpensive as well. The gold used is in such a minute amount that it costs 100th of a cent to take the test.