SWIFTeR - Validating a COVID-19 testing technology

We are an interdisciplinary team composed of engineers, biologists, and clinicians in the Philippines developing ways to simplify the COVID-19 testing process. We have four ongoing state-funded research projects housed in the Ateneo De Manila University. One of the projects we are working on is the validation of a rapid, simple and efficient Isothermal COVID-19 testing technology.

To achieve this, we will be reproducing Miriam, the open-source isothermal amplification platform by Miroculus. This device can run Loop Mediated Isothermal Amplification (LAMP) reactions to amplify DNA on a standard 96-well plate and it comes with real time detection of the reactions via optics. It performs this task by heating up the plate to a desired temperature and maintaining that temperature to enable amplification reaction conditions. For the optics, there are 96 LEDs and 96 photodiodes separated by an emission filter. As this is open source, all documentation can be found on GitHub.

This Arduino Mega-controlled instrument is composed of 4 PCBs: two heating boards, an LED board for detection optics, and the Arduino shield. The heating boards are based on the principle of Joule heating and will be using the heat generated by the current flowing through the copper traces. In the middle of the board is a 10 kohm SMD thermistor.

Figure 1: Heater Boards

The LED board is used for fluorescence detection using 96 LEDs and 96 photodiodes for the 96-well plate.

Figure 2: LED (left) and photodiode (right) PCBs

Lastly, the Arduino shield “contains three MOSFETs to control LED board and the two heater boards, the required components to read the heat from the thermistors as well as a WIFI chip. The WIFI chip makes it possible for Arduino to be connected to a local WIFI and this way communicate autonomously to a web service.”

Figure 3: The Arduino Shield

We are interested in having PCBWay to produce and assemble the 4 PCBs required for this open-source platform. PCBWay has been our chosen fabricator even for our previous PCBs because their manufacturing tolerances are fit for our current and future needs. With very accommodating sales representatives, working with this company has always been a great experience.

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Jan 13,2021
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