A biosensor that Detects COVID-19 Virus

The COVID-19 pandemic has made various researchers to channelize their work in finding the potential solution. In one such effort, research team of Jing Wang at EMPA and ETH Zurich has recently developed a biosensor which can help detect the COVID-19 virus in the air.  

The biosensor need not be replacement to the existing detection technique but can be a robust primary alternative, specifically in certain location where rapid testing is limitation. For example, the present biosensor can be cast-off to measure the virus in air. This will offer a great safety measure which can be followed in public areas such as bus, train or hospitals as a preventive measure.  

Optical biosensor detecting RNA 

The biosensor works on two principle effects in order to detect the COVID-19 virus effectively, which includes: 

  1. Optical
  2. Thermal 

Let’s unfold each one to gain a better insight about the functionality. The biosensor is made of nanoislands made of gold help strongly on a substrate. It consists of DNA segments complementary to the RNA sequence of the COVID-19 virus. Such that when the virus comes in contact to the biosensor only the specific virus sequence binds. The researchers also used LSPR (Localized Surface Plasmon Resonance) technology for further detection of the virus. To make sure that only COVID-19 RNA bind to the sensor, plasmonic photo thermal effect was used. Here, a laser is excited on the biosensor nanoislands at certain wavelength to induce localized heat which creates a favorable environment for binding of only targeted complementary sequences (i.e. of COVID-19 virus).