Rapid coronatesting could be enabled by plasmonics
Plasmonic nanoparticles get their color depending on the shape and size of the particles. Photo: Alex Giacomini
Plasmonic nanoparticles are tiny metallic particles that have unique optical properties, and extraordinary efficiency at absorbing and scattering light. This is not only useful for transparent solar cells, but also for development of biological and chemical sensors.
Last week a team of researchers based at ETH Zurich published a study prompted by the ongoing pandemic on how a new kind of plasmonic biosensor could provide a fast and sensitive alternative to the standard RT-PCR analysis for COVID-19. Faster tests would be very valuable in a situation where a large part of the population needs to be tested.
Even if this new sensor is promising, there remains some practical issues. An article from last year on the American Association for Clinical Chemistry’s news section highlights that biosensors using surface plasmon resonance are expensive and only made by a handful of companies, and they primarily design and market their instruments for academic and pharmaceutical laboratories.
A different approach is being developed by the American company Nanopartz, that is aiming for COVID-19 detection in under 1 minute with their novel “plasmonic PCR”, proposed as a rapid and low-cost PCR. It is based on laser heating of plasmonic gold nanoparticles suspended in the PCR tube, where detection is done by measuring the optical absorption of the suspended nanoparticles.
Jacinto Sá, founder and CTO of Peafowl Solar Power, demonstrates yellow plasmonic nanoparticles in the lab at Ångström laboratory, Uppsala.
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