A detector with record sensitivity capable of detecting the presence of any viruses in the air even at minimal concentration was developed by scientists of the National Nuclear Research University “MEPHI”. (NIIAU MIFI). The system is several times more compact and accurate than its analogs, which makes it the optimal means of rapid diagnosis in places of mass congestion. The press service of the university informed me about it.
State tests of the “Trigger-BIO” detector created in NIU MIFI have shown a record sensitivity of the device: in 1-2 seconds it is able to identify a pathogen present in the air in the amount of only 10-20 particles per liter.
The device, as the creators explained, separates impurities with high precision and recognizes biogenic aerosols of all types – viruses, bacteria, bacterial toxins. The specialists of the National Research Institute of Physics and Mathematics are sure that the device will allow organizing stream screening in transport and crowded places, and will help to secure civilian and military objects.
“Detection and recognition of pathogens in the device is done by analyzing the fluorescence of two main bioaerosol fluorophores – tryptophan and nicotinamide dinucleotide. The device performs spectral analysis of the sample, pumping air through the analytical path and exciting it with the radiation of light-emitting diodes with wavelengths of 280 and 365 nm”, – explained Gennady Kotkovsky, Associate Professor of the Department of Nanotechnology in Electronics, Spintronics, and Photonics at the National Research Institute of Physics and Photonics, NIU MEPI.
Air samples are pumped at a speed of 27 liters per minute. The speed and volume of the air jet allow, according to scientists, to register the fluorescence signal from each of the bioaerosol particles that fall into the focus area of the excitation radiation.
“The analysis takes place in three spectral bands, as well as in the light scattering channel, which allows cutting off inorganic impurities. With the help of correlation analysis, a signal is generated from each irradiated particle in the photon counting mode, which is compared with the samples of pathogens in the device memory”, – said Gennady Kotkovsky.
The peculiarity of the device, according to the creators, is the use of two sources of excitation at once, which reduces the detection threshold and improves the accuracy of identification. This is the first time in Russia that a device of this type has been used for counting single photons, which, as explained by the scientists, increases the sensitivity of the device by at least 10 times.
“Trigger-BIO”, as the creators noted, is several times more compact and lighter than existing analogs: it weighs only five kilograms when powered by the network and six and a half kilograms when operating in standalone mode.
The development of the device was carried out under a contract with the Ministry of Health of the Russian Federation, the tests were held in the National Research Center of Epidemiology and Microbiology (NRCEM) named after N.F. Gamaleya.
At present, scientists are moving to the experimental operation of the device under real conditions, as well as to the formation of a base of spectral “prints” of pathogens for their effective recognition.