“Dip-and-read” paper-based analytical devices using distance-based detection with color screening†
An improved paper-based analytical device (PAD) using color screening to enhance device performance is described. Current detection methods for PADs relying on the distance-based signalling motif can be slow due to the assay time being limited by capillary flow rates that wick fluid through the detection zone. For traditional distance-based detection motifs, analysis can take up to 45 min for a channel length of 5 cm. By using a color screening method, quantification with a distance-based PAD can be achieved in minutes through a “dip-and-read” approach. A colorimetric indicator line deposited onto a paper substrate using inkjet-printing undergoes a concentration-dependent colorimetric response for a given analyte. This color intensity-based response has been converted to a distance-based signal by overlaying a color filter with a continuous color intensity gradient matching the color of the developed indicator line. As a proof-of-concept, Ni quantification in welding fume was performed as a model assay. The results of multiple independent user testing gave mean absolute percentage error and average relative standard deviations of 10.5% and 11.2% respectively, which were an improvement over analysis based on simple visual color comparison with a read guide (12.2%, 14.9%). In addition to the analytical performance comparison, an interference study and a shelf life investigation were performed to further demonstrate practical utility. The developed system demonstrates an alternative detection approach for distance-based PADs enabling fast (∼10 min), quantitative, and straightforward assays.