Researchers from the University of Illinois Chicago managed to use graphene – a strong yet very thin material – to detect SARS-CoV-2 virus in laboratory trials.
The researchers state that their discovery may be a breakthrough in the field of coronavirus detection, with possible application in the fight against the novel coronavirus and its numerous variants.
In experiments, researchers merged sheets of graphene, which are over 1,000 times thinner than a post stamp, with an antibody meant to target the spike protein of the deadly virus.
After that, they measured the atomic-level vibrations of the graphene sheets when exposed to COVID-positive and COVID-negative samples in synthetic saliva.
The sheets were tested with other coronavirus strains, including the Middle East respiratory syndrome, or MERS-CoV.
The researchers discovered that the vibrations of the antibody-coupled graphene sheet responded when it came in contact with a COVID-positive sample, but not when treated with a COVID-negative sample or with other strains of coronaviruses.
Vibrational modifications, quantized with a device known as a Raman spectrometer, were noticeable in less than five minutes.
Vikas Berry, the paper’s senior author, said:
“We have been developing graphene sensors for many years. In the past, we have built detectors for cancer cells and ALS. It is hard to imagine a more pressing application than to help stem the spread of the current pandemic.”
He also explained that there is an obvious need in society for advanced ways of rapidly and precisely detecting COVID and its variants. The new research has the chance of making a real difference, he added.
The altered sensor is susceptible and selective for COVID. The best part is that the device is fast and affordable!