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BETHESDA, Maryland, April 15, 2021 (LifeSiteNews) – The National Institute of Health (NIH) has awarded a two-year grant to multinational company General Electric to develop a microchip that can detect the presence of COVID-19 particles.
The two-year contract began on December 21, 2020, and funding for the initial year amounts to $581,785.
General Electric has been awarded the grant by the government health agency as the NIH looks to fund development projects for “novel, non-traditional approaches to identify the current SARS-CoV-2 virus.”
The project is to create a device, small enough to fit inside a phone or watch, that can “directly capture, detect, and identify” COVID-19 virus particles. The idea is that the “bioreceptors” would be able to detect particles of the virus, and able to differentiate between them and other particles they come into contact with.
Once the sensors have determined the presence of the virus, they would “automatically” transmit this information “to a touchscreen or other digital device.”
General Electric’s New York based team is led by one of their principal research scientists, Radislav Potyrailo, who hailed the project as creating one of the “first lines of defense.”
“The holy grail is to detect a single virus particle,” he said.
Potyrailo’s team is thus designing a “digital bloodhound,” a “microchip smaller than a dime with nanowells, or tiny pores, that can only be activated by a particular molecule — in this case, a molecule from the coronavirus causing COVID-19.”
Each of the nanowells will contain “bioreceptors” which would only be activated upon recognition of the virus particles that they were designed for.
Despite the small size of the sensors, Potyrailo declared that they would have “the same detection capabilities as the high-end analytical instruments the size of a microwave oven.”
Although the initial focus is on using touchscreen devices to collect such data due to their exceptionally widespread usage in every day, the technology is not limited merely to phones. The NIH predicted that it could be “integrated into keyboard,