By: Meteorologist Mike Simon Email
By: Meteorologist Mike Simon Email

OAK RIDGE, Tenn. (WVLT) --The flowprobe is a new device developed right here at oak ridge national laboratory. The flowprobe will be able to detect in minutes what's on your skin, what may be in your body, and also on the products and the foods that you buy in the store.

Dr Gary Van Berkel, distinguished research scientist at ORNL says, “some of those chemicals can be hazardous, and people want to know if they are there and what amounts.”

Dr Van Berkel came up with this revolutionary way to sample surfaces and identify what's on them.

He also says, “we take a tiny probe to a surface that has a liquid and we actually devolve and extract the material from the surface and then bring that to an instrument called a mass spectrometer.”

The mass spectrometer determines what's on the tested area. This technology's been around for a while but the flowprobe that attaches to it is a breakthrough.

Dr. Van Berkel adds, “we only need extremely trace quantities to detect. He Thinks that's the real power of the technique and the fact that we don't have to do any type of sample work-up.”

For instance, what used to take weeks to learn, the flowprobe figures out in minutes.

“These are rapid less invasive intensive types of analysis that can be done without as much labor. They can be done quickly, it means they can be done more often”, he says.

That means cheaper, more thorough ways of testing and possibly less expensive drugs and food for you and me down the road.

Dr, Van Berkel also adds, “if you go to the store and you're buying food, fruits, vegetables, and you want to know if there are, for example, pesticide contamination on the surfaces.”

The flowprobe will be able to find out if our food is safe to eat in just a matter of minutes. Some other uses for the flowprobe can be the testing of organs, pharmaceuticals, and even our fingerprints. Production of the flowprobe will begin in may.

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