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Versatile Chemical Sensors Take Two Steps Forward

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Science  31 Oct 1997:
Vol. 278, Issue 5339, pp. 806
DOI: 10.1126/science.278.5339.806

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Two separate groups recently reported creating new chemical detection schemes that promise to be compact, cheap, and versatile. The new systems detect compounds when they bind to recognition molecules embedded in the sensor material, changing the way it interacts with light. One scheme, described on page 840 of this issue of Science, exploits the optical properties of a silicon chip with a surface etched into a forest of pillars and pits; the other, reported in last week's issue of Nature, relies on an assemblage of tiny plastic spheres trapped in a polymer- and water-based gel.