Detection and Diagnostics of Airborne Viruses

Principal Investigator: Professor Anderson H.C. SHUM (Department of Mechanical Engineering)

This project is showcased in the inaugural exhibition – Engineering for Better Living in Innovation Wing Two

Project information


A lot of diseases can be transmitted via airborne agents, such as viruses spreading through droplets. The concentrations of these airborne agents are usually too low in the environment and it has created difficulties for the current detection instruments available in the market. We aim to fill this gap by developing new technologies to enhance detection and diagnostics of airborne viruses.

Novelty of the Project

The development of new devices and instrumentations is based on a novel physicochemical approach. They will be able to (1) detect the airborne viruses at lower virus concentration, and (2) identify the viruses in a short period of time. In the future, zero contact with secretions could be done during the virus detection process. It not only reduces the chance of infection for medical staff, but also alleviates the discomfort of participants during the test.

Benefit to the Community

Airborne diseases have been demonstrated to spread quickly in indoor environments. Our techniques can be potentially developed into instruments for environmental monitoring, which is an important requirement for controlling outbreaks. For example, these instruments can be deployed and distributed in indoor environments to alert the occupants of potential presence of infected persons. This will facilitate the identification of potential group of Infected persons and the control of spread of diseases.

It hopefully will help contribute to addressing future pandemics.

About the scholar

Professor Shum is the Associate Vice-President (Research and Innovation) in HKU, the Professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at HKU and Centre Director of Advanced Biomedical Instrucmentation Centre. His research interests are Emulsion, Soft condensed metter physics, Microfluidics, Emulsion-templated materials, Bio-microfludics, Drug delivery, Cosmetics applications and Food applications.

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About the Centre

The Advanced Biomedical Instrumentation Centre, set up with the funding support from the Health@InnoHK initiative by the Innovation and Technology Commission of the HKSAR Government, fosters collaboration among top-notch scientists engineers and clinicians. The Centre is a collaboration between HKU and the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences at Harvard University, and the goal is to develop next-generation and low—cost medical instrumentation. The research and development themes include (1) Affordable Screening Tests, (2) Personalised Companion Diagnostics, (3) Strategic Therapeutic Approaches, and (4) Advanced Medical Device Components.

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