Knowing if you’re infected with the SARS-CoV-2 virus could soon turn to ‘light-speed mode’ if the new test using microfluidics and electronics will be implemented at a large scale. Instead of waiting for days until you get a result, the COVID test that PhysicsWorld.com writes about will provide the verdict in literally a second.
Scientists from the US and Taiwan, including Minghan Xian and colleagues from the National Yang Ming Chiao Tung University and the University of Florida, have developed the ‘magical’ test for the coronavirus. The system features a reusable circuit board and a disposable testing cartridge, and it can detect if the virus exists or not in the fluid samples in a record time.
An ingenious method
The new COVID test works by measuring distortions in electrical signals that are associated with the presence of virus particles within a circuit. There’s also a circuit board that contains a metal-oxide-semiconductor field-effect transistor (MOSFET), meaning an electronic device that amplifies the electrical signals.
A disposable testing strip that connects to the MOSFET circuit is also present. A microfluidic channel included contains clusters of electrodes that are coated with antibodies for the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Electrical test signals pass between the electrodes when samples containing fluids are introduced in the channel. The MOSFET makes the amplification, and the circuit board starts to analyze.
Spike proteins of the coronavirus particles will connect to the antibodies on the electrode surface if there is any trace of the SARS-CoV-2 virus present in the sample. The system can establish the concentration of spike proteins and the concentration of virus particles from the sample.
The new system is detailed in the Journal of Vacuum Science & Technology B.