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Ph. D. Thesis on nanomechanical aerosol spectrometry for airborne virus detection

DescriptionViruses that affect humans are dispersed and transmitted through airborne routes of infection. The current lack of suitable technologies for accurate detection of viruses directly from air limits severely both our progress in understanding the principles that govern airborne virus transmission from host to host as well as our capacity to mitigate the effects of infectious outbreaks. The selected candidate will carry out a Ph.D. thesis on the development of a nanomechanical spectrometry technology for the detection of infectious viruses in air. The goal of this research is to establish the scientific foundation for a new technology capable of detecting the presence and assessing the infectious potential of airborne viruses by measuring the mass and stiffness of aerosolized particles collected straight from airstream without the need of nucleic acid-based analysis (such as PCR). The pursued technology will rely on the combination of optimized nanoparticle collection and aerodynamic focusing with the application of flexural nanomechanical resonators as sensing devices for measuring the mass and stiffness of the collected nanoparticles. Specifically, the project aims at the scientific breakthrough of demonstrating the capacity of this approach to discern aerosolized nanoparticle populations by their distinctive mass-stiffness distribution patterns. Such capacity will enable airborne virus detection in closed spaces such as hospitals, schools, workplaces, etc., providing an unprecedented surveillance tool and knowledge far beyond the state of the art to face the global health problem of infectious virus outbreaks.

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