In the not-too-distant future, each of us may have a simple device - small enough for our nightstand or our pocket - that keeps us apprised of our level of health, identifies even trace amounts of undesirable biomarkers in our blood or saliva and serves as an early-warning system for diseases.

This technological revolution may be one step closer thanks to a powerful tool developed by researchers at EPFL's BioNanoPhotonic Systems (BIOS) Laboratory.

It consists of an ultra-thin and miniaturized optical chip that, when coupled with a standard CMOS camera and powered by image analysis, is able to count biomolecules one by one in a sample and determine their location.

This pioneering technology is based on metasurfaces - rising stars in the field of photonics.

Metasurfaces are sheets of artificial materials covered in millions of nano-sized elements arranged in a special way.

When light shines on the metasurface and hits a molecule at one of these hotspots, the molecule is detected immediately.

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