Quantum Dot Enabled Detection Of Escherichia Coli Using A Cell-Phone

Tech ID: 27527 / UC Case 2012-341-0


UCLA researchers in the Department of Electrical Engineering have developed a platform that can detect E. coli using a cell phone.


Water and food associated diseases still pose considerable public health threat even in highly industrialized parts of the world, causing significant amount of hospitalizations and deaths every year. For example, Escherichia coli (E. coli) can easily contaminate food or drinking water, posing a significant threat to public health safety. In order to prevent such serious health problems, and economic loss due to outbreaks caused by water-/food-borne diseases, a gold standard detection method (EPA Method 1604) has been developed. But this method requires membrane filtration, colony culture, and a fluorescent microscope.


Researchers at UCLA have developed a compact, lightweight, and cost-effective fluorescent imaging and sensing platform for detecting E. coli using a cell phone. This platform combines antibody functionalized glass capillaries with quantum dots as signal reporters to specifically detect E. coli particles in liquid samples using a lightweight (28 g) and compact (3.5 cm x 5.5 cm x 2.4 cm) attachment. This attachment acts as a fluorescent microscope that quantifies the emitted light from each capillary after capture of E. coli particles within the sample of interest.


E. coli detection in water and food


  • Compact, lightweight compared to full fluorescent microscopy set-up
  • Portable
  • Sensitive (detection limit of 5-10 cfu/mL)

Patent Status

Country Type Number Dated Case
United States Of America Issued Patent 9,057,702 06/16/2015 2012-341

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Other Information


Infectious disease, E. coli, fluorescent imaging, pathogen detection, contamination, water-borne disease, food-borne disease, cellphone

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