Novel, accurate pathogen sensors for fast detection of SARS-CoV-2 in the aerosol in seconds for a breathalyzer platform

Xiaoling Shi, Pardis Sadeghi, Nader Lobandi, Shadi Emam, Seyed Mahdi Seyed Abrishami, Isabel Martos-Repath, Natesan Mani, Mehdi Nasrollahpour, William Sun, Stav Rones, Joshua Kwok, Harsh Shah, Joseph Charles, Zulqarnain Khan, Sheree Pagsuyoin, Akarapan Rojjanapinun, Ping Liu, Jeongmin Chae, Maxime Ferreira Da Costa, Jianxiu LiXin Sun, Mengdi Yang, Jiahe Li, Jennifer Dy, Jennifer Wang, Jeremy Luban, Ching Wen Chang, Robert Finberg, Urbashi Mitra, Sydney Cash, Gregory Robbins, Cole Hodys, Hui Lu, Patrick Wiegand, Robert Rieger, Nian X. Sun

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Rapid and accurate detection of the pathogens, such as severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) for COVID-19, is critical for mitigating the COVID-19 pandemic. Current state-of-the-art pathogen tests for COVID-19 diagnosis are done in a liquid medium and take 10–30 min for rapid antigen tests and hours to days for polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests. Herein we report novel accurate pathogen sensors, a new test method, and machine-learning algorithms for a breathalyzer platform for fast detection of SARS-CoV-2 virion particles in the aerosol in 30 s. The pathogen sensors are based on a functionalized molecularly-imprinted polymer, with the template molecules being the receptor binding domain spike proteins for different variants of SARS-CoV-2. Sensors are tested in the air and exposed for 10 s to the aerosols of various types of pathogens, including wild-type, D614G, alpha, delta, and omicron variant SARS-CoV-2, BSA (Bovine serum albumin), Middle East respiratory syndrome–related coronavirus (MERS-CoV), influenza, and wastewater samples from local sewage. Our low-cost, fast-responsive pathogen sensors yield accuracy above 99% with a limit-of-detection (LOD) better than 1 copy/μL for detecting the SARS-CoV-2 virus from the aerosol. The machine-learning algorithm supporting these sensors can accurately detect the pathogens, thereby enabling a new and unique breathalyzer platform for rapid COVID-19 tests with unprecedented speeds.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number100369
JournalBiosensors and Bioelectronics: X
StatePublished - Sep 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biotechnology
  • Biophysics
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Electrochemistry

Cite this