To develop the technique, researchers used paper with hydrophobic or water repellant coating, and then used a laser to burn the hydrophobic coating in lines, dots and patterns.

The modified surface of the paper, which contains patterns that can absorb water, traps and localises the chemicals and biological aqueous reagents for analysis.

In addition, researchers deposited silica microparticles on patterned areas which help draw the liquid to patterned areas, where it would combine with another chemical known as the reactant.

To perform the analysis, these strips can be inserted into an electronic reader, and a color change would indicate a negative or positive result.

Study researcher Babak Ziaie said the new approach offers the potential to extend the inexpensive paper-based systems so that they are able to do more complicated multiple analyses on the same piece of paper.