COVID-19: Rapid Response Research funding awarded to Dr Padmavathy Bakthavathsalam and Scientia Professor Justin Gooding

Posted 28 April 2020

Dr Padmavathy Bakthavathsalam and Scientia Professor Justin Gooding were recently awarded with COVID-19: Rapid Response Research funding to construct a point of care, rapid testing for SARS CoV2 using digital biosensors to achieve single molecule ultrasensitive detection.

The study uses dark-field optical microscopy to examine scattering arising from individual nanoparticles. The plasmonic nanoparticles exhibit strong optical properties that can be detected by a digital camera or smartphone camera.

The sensor surface could be used on direct lysate of clinical samples in 30 minutes. The above benefits reduce turnaround assay time with ultrasensitive detection limit of 10-100 copies /mL of virus genome in the test sample in collaboration with Professor William Rawlinson and Dr. Sacha Stelzer-Braid from Virology Research laboratory, Prince of Wales Hospital.

The integration of the portable device and digital quantification of the dark field image obtained from the sensor allows automated analysis of the presence of virus minimizing the risk for healthcare workers. Through point-of-care, self-sampling applications, this will provide safer, reduced turnaround for SARS CoV-2 diagnosis, applicable to developing country applications through our clinical partners.

For more information on Dr Padmavathy Bakthavathsalam's research,
please visit

For more information on the UNSW COVID-19: Rapid Response Research Initiative,
please visit