SIGS Research: Smart nucleic acid detection device for community screening

Since the COVID-19 outbreak, nucleic acid detection reagents have been used to identify infections, but are limited by tedious operations, long waiting times and centralized detection. Unable to satisfy testing needs for numerous suspected patients and asymptomatic infections, patients are overcrowding in hospitals and greatly increasing the risk of cross-infection.

Diagnostic methods to be used in the community or in families can help alleviate some hospital functions, ensure efficient use of medical resources, and build a more effective disease prevention system.

Building upon previous work in special image sensing components in nucleic acid sequencing, Associate Prof. Zhang Sheng’s team at Tsinghua SIGS is developing an intelligent nucleic acid detection device based on single molecule fluorescence image sequencing.

With characteristics of advanced technology, rapid deployment and decentralized detection, the device is expected to realize the rapid release of gene sequences in infected cases, and rapidly detect localized nucleic acid of potential infected persons. This will help medical workers quickly screen suspected patients in families or communities, reducing the accumulation and cross-infection of potential infected cases.

They have been working with experts remotely, as well as authorities in Shenzhen to quickly demonstrate the principle and offer a technical solution within two weeks.

Currently, the prototype structure design of the intelligent detection device and preparations for early research have been completed.


Partially enlarged schematic diagram of microfluidic structure


Schematic diagram of system integration

Edited by Karen Lee