Emulsion-based isothermal nucleic acid amplification for rapid SARS-CoV-2 detection via angle-dependent light scatter analysis

Alexander S. Day, Tiffany Heather Ulep, Babak Safavinia, Tyler Hertenstein, Elizabeth Budiman, Laurel Dieckhaus, Jeong Yeol Yoon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


The SARS-CoV-2 pandemic, an ongoing global health crisis, has revealed the need for new technologies that integrate the sensitivity and specificity of RT-PCR tests with a faster time-to-detection. Here, an emulsion loop-mediated isothermal amplification (eLAMP) platform was developed to allow for the compartmentalization of LAMP reactions, leading to faster changes in emulsion characteristics, and thus lowering time-to-detection. Within these droplets, ongoing LAMP reactions lead to adsorption of amplicons to the water-oil interface, causing a decrease in interfacial tension, resulting in smaller emulsion diameters. Changes in emulsion diameter allow for the monitoring of the reaction by use of angle-dependent light scatter (based off Mie scatter theory). Mie scatter simulations confirmed that light scatter intensity is diameter-dependent and smaller colloids have lower intensity values compared to larger colloids. Via spectrophotometers and fiber optic cables placed at 30° and 60°, light scatter intensity was monitored. Scatter intensities collected at 5 min, 30° could statistically differentiate 10, 103, and 105 copies/μL initial concentrations compared to NTC. Similarly, 5 min scatter intensities collected at 60° could statistically differentiate 105 copies/μL initial concentrations in comparison to NTC. The use of both angles during the eLAMP assay allows for distinction between high and low initial target concentrations. The efficacy of a smartphone-based platform was also tested and had a similar limit of detection and assay time of less than 10 min. Furthermore, fluorescence-labeled primers were used to validate target nucleic acid amplification. Compared to existing LAMP assays for SARS-CoV-2 detection, these times-to-detections are very rapid.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number113099
JournalBiosensors and Bioelectronics
StatePublished - May 1 2021


  • COVID-19
  • Emulsion
  • Interfacial tension
  • Loop-mediated isothermal amplification
  • Mie scatter
  • SARS-CoV-2

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Biophysics
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Electrochemistry


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