The National Institute of Astrophysics, Optics and Electronics (INAOE) has developed an optical sensor that detects the SARS CoV-2 virus in a time lapse of 10 to 20 minutes.

This project is based on the plasmon resonance effect and is able to detect different variants of the coronavirus, under laboratory conditions.

Photo: INAOE

Dr. Rubén Ramos García and Dr. Svetlana Mansurova were in charge of the project, carried out with CONACYT (National Council of Science and Technology in Mexico) funding.

Dr. Ramos explained the difference of the sensor with others used to measure air or drug quality:

“Biosensors are usually expensive. Our sensor uses the same principle of commercial sensors, but it has details of its own, especially the phase detection mode, there is no other commercial sensor available with this feature. The transducer is a structure made up of gold nanoparticles on a glass substrate, which reduces the expense on gold for the sensor’s fabrication and increases detection sensitivity”.

According to the researchers, this project is in its final stage. They only need to miniaturize the sensor and simplify it with fiber optics, in order to mount it on a platform and start production.

Photo: INAOE

Dr. Svetlana Mansurova assures that the practicality of the device allows for an effective defection in shopping malls, hospitals, schools or offices:

“It will allow a quicker and more effective response to local outbreaks, to isolate and fight them, without the need to immobilize social and economic activities on a state and/or national level”

The development of the biosensor was carried out by a multidisciplinary team from INAOE, including researchers, graduate students, and technicians from areas of Electronics, Optics, and Biomedical Sciences and Technologies.

Additionally supported by the chemistry department from UNAM (National Autonomous University of Mexico) and the biology department of the University of Florida.