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The Chemical Educator

ISSN: 1430-4171 (electronic version)

Table of Contents

Abstract Volume 20 (2015) pp 134-137

Paper Microfluidic Method to Quantify Taurine in Urine Samples: A College Level Introductory Chemistry Experiment

Sanjeewa Gamagedara*, Luan M. Nguyen, Oscar Baawuah

Department of Chemistry, Hartwick College, Oneonta, NY 13820,
Received January 26, 2015. Accepted April 20, 2015.

Published: 7 May 2015

Abstract. This laboratory experiment is designed to introduce college students to paper microfluidics and the role of biomarkers in detecting various diseases. The procedure allows students to design paper microfluidic systems using inexpensive materials that are available in most college laboratories. In this experiment, taurine, an organic acid which can also act as a cancer biomarker, is prepared in a synthetic urine-phosphate buffer solution (pH = 10.3) and allowed to react with sodium hypochlorite and phenol on rectangular filter papers. The reaction can be observed through the purple-colored indo-phenol dye formation on the filter paper. The intensity of this color change is measured with graphics software, such as Adobe Photoshop. Students have the opportunity to explore the relationship between the concentration of taurine and the intensity of the indo-phenol dye through the construction of a calibration curve. In this experiment, the importance of the matrix effect in the quantitative analysis is emphasized. Additionally, students are introduced to non-traditional methods of quantitative analysis. This method illustrates that techniques from other fields such as graphics editing, though seems unrelated to any fields of physical or life scientific research, can be combined with chemistry to make an ideal analytical tool. Finally, with further modifications, this method can be used to quantify other biomarkers in different biological fluids such as serum and urine.

Key Words: Laboratories and Demonstrations; general chemistry

(*) Corresponding author. (E-mail:

Article in PDF format (150 KB) HTML format

Supporting Materials:

Paper Microfluidic and UV-Vis spectrometric Analysis of Taurine lab manual is available. (84 KB)

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