Early warning Viral detection system for bioterrorism and pandemic monitoring

Theme: Aerosol Technology

Start date: Cohort 2: 2020

Supervisors: Dr Daniel McCluskey, Dr Ian Johnston and Dr Loic Coudron


The real-time (RT) detection of bioaerosols has become extremely important in both military and civilian infrastructure. Biological warfare is posed to be an increasingly tangible threat for the future, with aerosol dissemination being identified as a mode of transmission (Franz et al.,1997). Thus, there is prerogative from national defence agencies to create aerosol detection technologies that are rapid, efficient and specific in identification of agent (Šantl-Temklv et al.,2019; Huffman and Ratnesar-Shumate, 2020). There is a much wider scope for this technology with interest in the environmental and food sectors (Šantl-Temklv et al.,2019). The detection of plant/animal pathogens can lead to crop devastation as well as the monitoring of potential release of bioaerosols in predefined hazardous locations (Jim Ho 2002).  

Lab-on-a-chip (LoC) technologies have been established to handle complications that arise from sample collection, in addition to the low concentrations of aerosolised pathogens and high customisation. (Coudron et al., 2018; Šantl-Temklv et al.,2019). It has been proposed that electrowetting-on-dielectric (EWOD) based digital microfluidics (DMF) is the next generation in biological detection of aerosolised agents (Coudron et al., 2018). Aerosolised pathogens can be transmitted in a variety of modes: liquid droplets, dust particles or spores (Alsved et al., 2019; Šantl-Temklv et al.,2019). The distance travelled is dependent on the size and density of the particle as larger particles will settle more rapidly compared to the smaller particles that can travel very long distances. A variety of collection methods have been developed in order to capture and analyse airborne pathogens. These include filtration or inertial/gravitational force approaches (Fronczek and Yoon 2015).