Safe blood transfusion requires compatibility testing of donor and recipient to prevent potentially fatal transfusion reactions. Detection of immunoglobulin G (IgG) antibodies requires incubation at 37 °C, often for up to 15 minutes. Current incubation technology predominantly relies on slow thermal-gradient dependent conduction. Here, we present rapid optical heating via laser, where targeted illumination of a blood-antibody sample in a diagnostic gel card is converted into heat, via photothermal absorption. Our laser-incubator heats the 75 µL blood-antibody sample to 37 °C in under 30 seconds. We show that red blood cells act as photothermal agents under near-infrared laser incubation, triggering rapid antigen-antibody binding. We detect no significant damage to the cells or antibodies for laser incubations of up to fifteen minutes. We demonstrate laser-incubated immunohaematological testing to be both faster and more sensitive than current best practice - with clearly positive results seen from laser incubations of just 40 seconds.
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