A new spin on old CDs

Thursday, 01 November, 2007

Scientists in Spain have found a way to recycle CDs, DVDs and disc players as portable substance analysers.

Dr Angel Maquieira and his team used a cheap, portable compact disc player and CDs to build an early model of a compact disc lab unit.

Maquieira coated an ordinary CD with special chemicals and three pesticides used to kill harmful insects. He put the CD into an ordinary CD player and pushed ‘play’. The laser light in the player that normally reads a CD could detect differences between each pesticide.

When the information from the CD player was sent to a computer, it correctly identified each pesticide.

The scientists believe that lots of other chemicals can be identified in the same way with these cheap, simple, recycled tools. And since CDs, DVDs and their players are so light and compact, they could be taken anywhere without much fuss.

The study will appear in the American Chemical Society’s journal Analytical Chemistry.

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