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September 24, 2021

Toyoda Gosei Collaborates with Ball Wave and Tohoku University to Develop Sensor that Detects SARS-CoV-2 in Air

Kiyosu, Japan, September 24, 2021: Toyoda Gosei Co., Ltd. is collaborating with Ball Wave Inc.1 and the Tohoku University School of Medicine to develop a sensor that detects SARS-CoV-2, the virus responsible for Covid-19, in air.

This sensor combines the unique technology of Ball Wave (Ball SAW sensor2), which enables near instantaneous detection of various substances in air and other gases at the nanoscale, the material technology of Toyoda Gosei that has been cultivated in surface treatment for automotive parts, and the “breathomics”3 findings of Tohoku University for the detection of viruses and other substances in exhaled breath. It will be able to detect, in the short time of a few seconds, viruses in tiny droplets (aerosols) that are released into the air when people talk or cough. Recently, proteins encoded by SARS-CoV-2 in aerosols were successfully detected in less than one minute. The group is continuing development to achieve early practical application of the sensor.

This sensor holds great potential for the monitoring of SARS-CoV-2 in a wide range of settings, including hospitals, public transportation, and event venues. It is also promising in future combinations with Toyoda Gosei’s UV-C (deep ultraviolet) LED technology, which is effective in eliminating the novel coronavirus.

1 A startup from Tohoku University. Toyoda Gosei invested in Ball Wave in November 2020 through its dedicated corporate venture capital office

2 A chemical sensor that uses a physical phenomenon (discovered by Tohoku University) in which ultrasound waves called Surface Acoustic Waves orbit spheres. Ultrasound waves change when the target substance attaches to a sensitive film.

3 Exhaled breath is collected, and viral proteins/genetic information in the aerosol are gathered efficiently and safely at the same time as inflammatory mediators and energy metabolites. A fully automatic, high-speed and ultrasensitive analysis is then performed. This was developed by Prof. Takaaki Akaike of the Tohoku University School of Medicine.

Viral sensor under development

Promising settings