A method using label-free surface enhanced Raman spectroscopy (SERS) based on substrate design is provided for an early detection and differentiation of spike glycoprotein mutation sites in live SARS-CoV-2 variants. Two SERS-active substrates, Au nanocavities (Au NCs) and Au NPs on porous ZrO2 (Au NPs/pZrO2), were used to identify specific peaks of A.3, Alpha, and Delta variants at different concentrations and demonstrated the ability to provide their SERS spectra with detection limits of 0.1–1.0% (or 104−5 copies/mL). Variant identification can be achieved by cross-examining reference spectra and analyzing the substrate-analyte relationship between the suitability of the analyte upon the hotspot(s) formed at high concentrations and the effective detection distance at low concentrations. Mutation sites on the S1 chain of the spike glycoprotein for each variant may be related and distinguishable. This method does not require sample preprocessing and therefore allows for fast screening, which is of high value for more comprehensive and specific studies to distinguish upcoming variants.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Analytical Chemistry
- Environmental Chemistry