Colorimetric Detection of the SARS-CoV-2 Virus (COVID-19) in Artificial Saliva Using Polydiacetylene Paper Strips

Christopher D. Prainito, Gaddi Eshun, Francis J. Osonga, Daniel Isika, Cynthia Centeno, Omowunmi A. Sadik

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


The spread and resurgence of the SARS-CoV-2 virus (COVID-19 disease) threatens human health and social relations. Prevention of COVID-19 disease partly relies on fabricating low-cost, point-of-care (POC) sensing technology that can rapidly and selectively detect the SARS-CoV-2 virus. We report a colorimetric, paper-based polydiacetylene (PDA) biosensor, designed to detect SARS-CoV-2 spike protein in artificial saliva. Analytical characterizations of the PDA sensor using NMR and FT-IR spectroscopy showed the correct structural elucidation of PCDA-NHS conjugation. The PDA sensor platform containing the N-Hydroxysuccinimide ester of 10, 12-pentacosadiynoic acid (PCDA-NHS) was divided into three experimental PCDA-NHS concentration groups of 10%, 20%, and 30% to optimize the performance of the sensor. The optimal PCDA-NHS molar concentration was determined to be 10%. The PDA sensor works by a color change from blue to red as its colorimetric output when the immobilized antibody binds to the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein in saliva samples. Our results showed that the PDA sensing platform was able to rapidly and qualitatively detect the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein within the concentration range of 1 to 100 ng/mL after four hours of incubation. Further investigation of pH and temperature showed minimal influence on the PDA sensor for the detection of COVID-19 disease. After exposure to the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein, smartphone images of the PDA sensor were used to assess the sensor output by using the red chromatic shift (RCS) of the signal response. These results indicate the potential and practical use of this PDA sensor design for the rapid, colorimetric detection of COVID-19 disease in developing countries with limited access to medical testing.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number804
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Analytical Chemistry
  • Biotechnology
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Instrumentation
  • Engineering (miscellaneous)
  • Clinical Biochemistry


  • SARS-CoV-2
  • antibody
  • biosensors
  • iPhone readout
  • paper strips
  • saliva
  • selective and rapid detection


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