Physics behind the new technique "Sensing of phage-triggered ion cascades" (SEPTIC) for the prompt identification of bacteria Conference Paper uri icon


  • 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.

name of conference

  • Noise and Information in Nanoelectronics, Sensors, and Standards III

published proceedings

  • Noise and Information in Nanoelectronics, Sensors, and Standards III

author list (cited authors)

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

citation count

  • 1

complete list of authors

  • Kish, LB||Bezrukov, SM||Der, A||Cheng, M||King, MD||Young, R||Seo, S||Kim, J

editor list (cited editors)

  • Bergou, J. A., Smulko, J. M., Dykman, M. I., & Wang, L.

publication date

  • January 2005