Yoon leads a research team working to combine the speed of existing nasal swab antigen tests with the high accuracy of nasal swab PCR, or polymerase chain reaction, tests. The researchers are adapting an inexpensive method that they originally created to detect norovirus using a smartphone microscope.
According to Nature, in some cases, smartphone-based diagnostics can match expensive and bulky lab equipment for speed and accuracy, while remaining portable enough for field settings. Yoon coupled a smartphone with some off-the-shelf microscope components and the MATLAB mobile app for a smartphone virus detector.
“We duplicated the bench-top fluorescence microscope, which can easily be U.S. $50,000, for less than $40,” Yoon said.