It can take several days to get results when testing biological samples to see which viruses are present,media New Atlas reported. However, it is said that there is a cheap new tool to capture and identify viruses in minutes. The handheld VIRRION device was developed by scientists at Pennsylvania State University and New York University and is only a few centimeters wide. In contrast, traditional virus identification devices are large, expensive and lab-based.
The prototype tool combines vertically arranged carbon nanotubes with “forests” and adds gold nanoparticles to it. Scientists can adjust the diameter of these tubes during the manufacturing process to adjust the size of space between them. This allows nanotubes to “forest” to capture individual viral molecules of a certain size when liquid biological samples pass through different versions of the device.
Once viruses are caught, they are identified using a technique called Raman spectroscopy. In short, the process involves subjecting the sample to a laser to stimulate its molecules and then monitoring the way those vibrating molecules scatter light. Gold nanoparticles enhance the Raman signal, which is analyzed by a machine learning algorithm that “trains” the signals of known virus molecules. In essence, this means that VIRRION simply matches the received signal with the archived signal.
Scientists hope that the technology, which could be further developed, could be used on-site in doctors’ offices and remote medical facilities, or used by farmers to check for diseases in crops and livestock.
“We synthesized an aligned carbon nanotube ‘forest’ array gradient to capture different viruses depending on the size of the virus and used Raman spectroscopy to detect them on-site,” said Assistant Professor Ye Yingjun
Said. “We designed and assembled a portable platform that enriches viral particles from milliliters of clinical samples in minutes. “
The paper on the study, led by Professor Mauricio Terrones, was published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.