An inexpensive virus detection scheme with high sensitivity and specificity is desirable for broad applications such as the COVID-19 virus. In this article, we introduce the localized surface plasmon resonance (LSPR) principle on the aggregation of antigen-coated gold nanoparticles (GNPs) to detect SARS-CoV-2 Nucleocapsid (N) proteins. Experiments show this technique can produce results observable by the naked eye in 5 min with a LOD (Limits of Detection) of 150 ng/ml for the N proteins. A comprehensive numerical model of the LSPR effect on the aggregation of GNPs has been developed to identify the key parameters in the reaction processes. The color-changing behaviors can be readily utilized to detect the existence of the virus while the quantitative concentration value is characterized with the assistance of an optical spectrometer. A parameter defined as the ratio of the light absorption intensity at the upper visible band region of 700 nm to the light absorption intensity at the peak optical absorption spectrum of the GNPs at 530 nm is found to have a linear relationship with respect to the N protein concentrations. As such, this scheme could be utilized as an inexpensive testing methodology for applications in POC (Point-of-Care) diagnostics to combat current and future virus-induced pandemics.
Keywords: SARS-CoV-2 detection, Plasmonic, GNPLSPR, ColorimetricPoint-of-Care, Biosensors