Tech&Innovation

Floating virus in the air…spot-on detection

Korean researchers have developed a technology that can detect certain viruses in the air directly at the site. It is expected that it can be collected from the site and analyzed immediately, which can be applied to indoor air pollution monitoring systems.

Dr. Lee Joon-seok’s team at the Korea Institute of Science and Technology’s molecular research center said they developed a diagnostic platform that can collect viruses in the air and detect them simultaneously through joint research with Gwangju Institute of Science and Technology and Konkuk University.

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Image by KIST


According to the researchers, tests of various bacteria, fungi and viruses in the current air require separate analysis processes that take hours to days after collecting air from the site to bring collected air to the laboratory.

Existing technologies that can be tested directly on the site without being moved to the laboratory could monitor the concentration of bacteria or fungi, but there were limitations in distinguishing the presence of certain microorganisms or viruses with small particle sizes.

The joint research team has developed an all-in-one diagnostic platform that can easily capture and simultaneously detect viruses in the air by using disposable kits at the site. The disposable virus capture and diagnosis kit developed by the researchers is similar to the pregnancy diagnosis kit, and can be identified by analyzing the presence of floating viruses for 10 to 30 minutes within a kit without separation or washing.

The diagnostic platform they developed collects floating viruses on porous pads, a filter made of glass fibers, and concentrates them and moves them to the detection area using capillary phenomena. Moving viruses combine with infrared light-emitting nanoparticles with antibodies that only respond to certain viruses, allowing them to selectively detect the desired virus even in environments where several viruses coexist.

Because airborne viruses are affected by external factors such as the size of indoor space and the presence of air conditioning systems, the joint researchers built an artificial floating virus formation system that can control external factors to test the platform.

Influenza viruses, which spread over a wide space, were collected and concentrated at a concentration of more than 1 million times in porous pads, and viruses on the surface of the pads were recovered at an efficiency of 82% through surface pretreatment and analysis solution optimization.

Dr. Lee Joon-seok of KIST said, “It is a platform that can be collected from the field and analyzed immediately, and it can be used as an indoor air pollution monitoring system by field diagnosing floating biological hazards such as the coronavirus.”


This research was conducted with support for Samsung’s future technology development project. The study was published in the latest issue of ACS Sensors.

Source: Korea Institute of Science and Technology. (n.d.). Retrieved December 27, 2020, from https://www.kist.re.kr/kist_web/?sub_num=2935&state=view&idx=3590&ord=0

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