NANO-AMBIENCE – 3D nanoporous matrix for ultra-sensitive detection of COVID‑19 pathogens and organic compounds

Douplik, Alexandre | $50,000

Ontario Ryerson University 2020 NSERC Alliance COVID-19 Grant

The goal of this partnership is to develop a novel sensing technology for ultra-sensitive detection of COVID‑19 pathogens and organic compounds from the air and patients’ samples. The proposal is targeting the following scenario: a SARS-CoV-2 vaccine is not ready yet, but conditions of quarantine become less restrictive due to the situation with the national economy and pressures to open up services and businesses. A quick or instant diagnostic tool becomes crucial to recognize a 2nd (3rd etc.) wave of the COVID‑19 pandemic with sufficient timeliness to alert health authorities and the general population so that they can reinstate quarantine measures. As yet, there are no sensitive point-of-care diagnostic devices that may collect and preserve the organic compounds, and simultaneously facilitate highly-sensitive detection at a level of a few molecules presented (e.g. DNA, RNA or protein). The contemporary PCR approach takes at least few days, which during the time of a pandemic is unacceptably long. Together with Tornado Spectral Systems (TSS), our industrial partner, we propose to exploring a solution in the form of 3D nanoporous matrices to create a sensing platform to monitor particles or organic vapor present in the environment. Potentially, such a substance perfectly suites as a collecting sensor platform that can monitor atmospheric ambient environment. Such a 3D matrix can effectively capture pathogens; even single DNA, RNA or protein molecules can be effectively trapped into the nanoporous structure afforded by these matrices. The nanoporous 3D matrices collaboration project is well suited for such applications where smaller sampling volumes can be used. Hence, the data gathered from this study would further lead to creation of a test platforms for rapid testing of small sample volumes that can be directly coupled to the current Raman probes designed by Tornado Spectral Systems. Thus, our goal is to develop a medical/environment sensor that can facilitate an effective sampling substrate and simultaneously is capable of trapping pathogens and has the ability to sense gaseous/vapor elements.

With funding from the Government of Canada

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