Real-time microbe detection based on director distortions around growing immune complexes in lyotropic chromonic liquid crystals02/18/2005
We describe director distortions in the nematic liquid crystal (LC) caused by a spherical particle with tangential surface orientation of the director and show that light transmittance through the distorted region is a steep function of the particle's size. The effect allows us to propose a real-time microbial sensor based on a nontoxic lyotropic chromonic LC (LCLC) that detects and amplifies the presence of immune complexes. A cassette is filled with LCLC, antibody, and antigen-bearing particles. Small and isolated particles cause no macroscopic distortions of the LCLC. Upon antibody-antigen binding, the growing immune complexes distort the director and cause detectable optical transmittance between crossed polarizers.