Graphene transistor used to detect variants of SARS-CoV-2

A graphene transistor has been used to detect SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. The detection is sensitive, rapid, and robust to changing variants of the virus. The achievement is targeted at point-of-care diagnosis.

The latest discovery, credited to a team of scientists from Italy, the USA and UK, has been published in the prestigious scientific journal Nano Today. The team demonstrated detection of six variants of SARS-CoV-2, including Delta and Omicron.

The work builds on previous findings that the Graphenea S-20 GFET platform can be functionalized with ACE2 receptors to detect pathogens with extreme sensitivity. The S-20, designed for sensing measurements in a liquid medium, makes graphene-based biosensing accessible to many researchers, which allows scientists to focus on novel discoveries in the field of biology without spending resources on technicalities. In this particular case, ACE2 is attached to the graphene chip, and when the virus spike protein interacts with ACE2 the electronic signal passing through the GFET chip changes, indicating presence of the virus.

Image: Detection of multiple variants of SARS-CoV-2 with a GFET device. Image from Romagnoli et al, nanotoday 48, 101729 (2023). CC BY-NC-ND 4.0.

The two publications were produced by independent groups of scientists, which shows that the Graphenea GFET platform is fulfilling expectations as the tool of choice for graphene-based sensing. The GFET platform includes several variants of graphene field-effect transistor type devices on microchips, as well as accessories that make the use of those devices intuitive. The product range satisfies sensing requirements in air, other gas, and liquid environments.

The two independent papers demonstrate that slightly different functionalization and measurement approaches, utilizing the same GFET S-20 platform, can target different objectives, such as high sensitivity to virus presence or multiplexed target detection. Hence the platform is easily customizable and widely applicable to a number of different pathogen detection scenarios. The body of work that is starting to accumulate with this platform underscores the importance of functionalization protocols and subsequent complete and careful characterization of the devices for achieving desired results. Subtle changes in fabrication and measurement protocols can render different functionalities and limits of detection.

Graphenea continues to work with scientists, developing new products according to the needs of this evolving research community, while ensuring high-quality graphene across the product range.