A University of Georgia nanotechnology research group entered the race to develop a rapid test for COVID-19 in August 2020, running experiments on a new sensor for an American manufacturing company. The group, led by Yiping Zhao and Ralph Tripp, tested nanotechnology-based optical sensors designed for COVID-19 detection and saw the potential for their home-grown technology.
In March 2022, the group filed a patent application and published its first paper on rapid detection of COVID-19, using a localized surface plasmon resonance (LSPR) virus sensor, developed based on human angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 protein (ACE2) functionalized silver nanotriangle arrays.
The sensor has high sensitivity and specificity to the spike protein RBD of SARS-CoV-2 as well as human coronavirus NL63.
“Right now, we already have rapid antigen test kits available on the market, though the big issue continues to be the high rate of false positives, around 60%,” said Yanjun Yang, doctoral student in the UGA College of Engineering and lead author on the new paper. “Our technology, also in a rapid kit but using a spectrometer to do the detection, is much more accurate.”
Image: UHC Photo by Andrew Davis Tucker/UGA