Professor Gabby Sarusi of the Ben-Gurion University (BGU) in Israel has developed a microchip to detect COVID-19 carriers as part of BGU’s Coronavirus Task Force, headed up by BGU President, Prof. Daniel Chamovitz. The task force was set up to harness the full resources and ingenuity available at the university to tackle all aspects of COVID-19.

Professor Sarusi is currently validating the test which identifies carriers of the virus within a minute and has a 90% plus accuracy rating. The key benefits of this innovative breathalyser test, is speed, accuracy and lower costs than any other method available because the test is electro-optical in nature rather than biochemical, it is not sensitive to the environmental factors that can affect results of current testing methods.

Clinical tests which are being conducted in conjunction with the Ministry of Defence have had a better then 90% success rate compared to Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) tests.

The test works when particles from a breath are placed on a chip with a dense array of metamaterial sensors designed specifically for this purpose. The system then analyzes the biological sample and provides an accurate positive/negative result within a minute via a cloud-connected system. The point-of-care device automatically backs up the results into a database that can be shared by authorities, making it easier than ever to track the course of the virus, as well as to triage and treat patients.

The new method is based on the change in the resonance in the THz spectral range imposed by the coronavirus through a THz spectroscopy performed on the device. This spectral range has been employed in recent decades for the fast detection and identification of biological samples.