Physics behind the new technique Sensing of phage-triggered ion cascades (SEPTIC) for the prompt identification of bacteria

L. B. Kish, S. M. Bezrukov, A. Der, M. Cheng, M. D. King, R. Young, S. Se, J. Kim

Research output: Contribution to journalConference article

1 Citation (Scopus)


Fatal injury of bacteria opens transmembrane ion pathways that create temporary ion clouds around the cells. This ion release transiently charges bacteria yielding spatiotemporal fluctuations of the electrical field which show up like a "fatal scream" in thermal noise. The effect has recently been demonstrated with the specific injuries caused by bacteriophage infections (King, et al, in press) and suggested for identification of bacteria with extraordinary speed and selectivity. Calculations indicate that the detection and identification of a single bacterium can be achieved with natural (wild) phages with reasonable efforts within a time window of 10 minutes. However the potential applicability of the agent-triggered ion cascade reaches much beyond that, including other kinds of injuries, such as those induced by antibiotics, ageing, poisoning, etc. Considerations and open questions about the physical aspects of the fluctuations and their detectability are discussed in this talk.

Original languageEnglish
Article number15
Pages (from-to)120-123
Number of pages4
JournalProceedings of SPIE - The International Society for Optical Engineering
Publication statusPublished - Dec 12 2005
EventNoise and Information in Nanoelectronics, Sensors, and Standards III - Austin, TX, United States
Duration: May 24 2005May 26 2005


  • Bacterium identification
  • Bioterroristic agents
  • Stochastic signals

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Applied Mathematics
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering

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