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PolyU develops portable nucleic acid testing device for COVID-19 to enable fast and accurate results on-site

Over the past two years, the COVID-19 pandemic has imposed a tremendous impact on society as well as on the daily lives of individuals. In the “post-pandemic” era, it is important to strengthen efforts in research and development of drug and vaccine, while also continuing to uphold high standards of personal and environmental hygiene management. Therefore, an accurate and convenient COVID-19 testing method could certainly help ease the stress of post-pandemic life.   In 2020, an interdisciplinary research team from The Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU) was awarded over HK$2.7 million by the Health and Medical Research Fund (HMRF) to commence research on a portable testing device for COVID-19 (the device). After one and a half years of extensive work, the team successfully achieved highly sensitive SARS-CoV-2 viral RNA detection based on the combination of reverse transcription–loop-mediated isothermal amplification (RT-LAMP) and gold nanoparticles (as amplification result readout reagent). The clinical sample test results were in full agreement with the reverse transcription–polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) standard.   The device accommodates up to six testing samples at one time. Excluding one positive and one negative control sample, up to four samples can be tested at the same time. Once the samples have been collected, tests can be run on-site using the device, without the need to return the samples to the laboratory.   The device provides a constant temperature of 65 degrees Celsius, and the built-in optical system will monitor the precipitation or dispersion of gold nanoparticles (precipitate in positive samples, while remain dispersed in negative samples). Real-time data will be sent to a mobile app via Bluetooth, and the test results will be analysed and displayed on the screen of the phone (image 2). An increase in the optical signal between 10 and 20 minutes indicates a positive sample, and the shorter the onset time, the higher the viral load in the sample. A positive sample can be confirmed in as short as 25 minutes. The entire test can be completed in about 40 minutes, and the test results can be recognised with bare eyes (image 3).   Professor Christopher CHAO, Vice President (Research and Innovation) of PolyU, was encouraged by the results of the research. He remarked, "We are grateful to the Food and Health Bureau for their trust in PolyU. With the strong support of the HMRF, PolyU is able to leverage its interdisciplinary strengths to contribute to the Government's anti-pandemic measures, and translate research outcomes into real-life applications, bringing about benefits to the community."   The lead of the research project, Professor YIP Shea-ping, Professor and Head of the Department of Health Technology and Informatics of PolyU, pointed out that “using gold nanoparticles as the amplification result readout reagent is the key to the success of this research. We are pleased to see that our method has attained excellent sensitivity and specificity, which is on par with the current PCR 'gold standard'.”   The portable and rechargeable design of the device enables the entire testing procedures to be performed outside the laboratory, right after on-site sample collection. Dr. LEE Ming-hung Thomas, Associate Professor and Associate Head of the Department of Biomedical Engineering of PolyU, is a key member of the research team. He explained, “Our team has conducted preliminary environmental sample testing using our gold nanoparticle-based RT-LAMP method, even without prior extraction and purification of nucleic acid. The time for running the test is shortened, and no large-sized laboratory equipment is required. Nucleic acid testing can be achieved in a handy device, and the accuracy is not affected even with low viral load. The next important step is to test with human unpurified samples directly.”   Dr. Lee added that both human and environmental samples can be tested in the newly invented device. Besides SARS-CoV-2, other viruses and bacteria can also be detected using this device (primers have to be redesigned). The unit cost of testing is comparatively lower than RT-PCR. Going forward, the team is planning to transfer the research outcomes to society by collaborating with industry players so as to extend the use of such technology to the wider community, in particular places where accurate results are needed within a short period of time (e.g. airports, quarantine facilities, elderly homes, clinics, ports, restaurants, shopping malls, schools, sports and recreational facilities, etc.). The team also hopes that with this invention in place, management of personal and environmental hygiene can be enhanced, and appropriate control measures can be implemented to reduce the risk of community infection.   ***END*** [From PolyU Media Release]   Related News Articles: 齊心抗疫 40分鐘完成 準確度「金標準」理大成功研發便攜式新冠病毒檢測儀  [AM730] 理大研發便攜新冠檢測儀 最快25分鐘知結果 [明報(Ming Pao Daily News)]      

13 Apr, 2022


Outstanding Alumni Award of PolyU Faculty of Engineering - Result Announcement

1 Apr, 2022


PolyU wins six prizes at 2022 Inventions Geneva Evaluation Days

The Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU) has once again excelled in this year’s online special edition of the International Exhibition of Inventions of Geneva (Geneva Inventions Expo) - Special Edition 2022 Inventions Geneva Evaluation Days – Virtual Event. The Exhibition is regarded as one of the most important annual global events devoted exclusively to inventions. This year, PolyU has garnered a total of six awards, including one Gold Medal with Congratulations of the Jury, one Gold Medal, three Silver Medals and one Bronze Medal. PolyU researchers commit to the motto of the University, " To learn and to apply, for the benefit of mankind”, by transferring their research into impactful real-life applications that benefit society. Four of the six participating projects are operated by PolyU supported start-ups which has already commercialised its research outputs. As the only university in Hong Kong taking part in the Nation’s space missions, the PolyU team is also actively developing instruments for the national space mission by leveraging its expertise in precision engineering. In addition, PolyU is also striving to leverage its research to improve people’s quality of life. The participating projects this year, which incorporate research in the areas of cooling coatings, eco-friendly building materials, smart fabrics, nutritional supplements and AI music learning platform, are just a few examples of this effort. The awards received by the PolyU teams are testament to their determination and unique capabilities in their areas of expertise, which have earned them international recognition. The teams will continue their good work by developing more innovative solutions that will eventually benefit Hong Kong, the Nation and the world. The six projects are (project details in Appendix and on the website of the Knowledge Transfer and Entrepreneurship Office   Project Principal Investigator Awards Camera Pointing System for China’s Lunar Exploration Missions (Chang'e 3 and 4) Prof. Kai-leung YUNG Sir Sze-yuen Chung Professor in Precision Engineering, Director of Research Centre for Deep Space Explorations, Chair Professor of Precision Engineering and Associate Head, Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering Gold Medal with Congratulations of the Jury UmiCool: an Eco-friendly Smart Sub-ambient Radiative Cooling (SSRC) Coating Prof. Jianguo DAI Professor and Associate Head, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Founder of Pro-Infra Science & Technology Limited (a PolyU Academic-led start-up) Gold Medal Carbon-negative Climate-smart Biochar Partition Block Prof. Daniel Chiu-Wa TSANG Professor, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Founder of NeutralCrete Limited (a PolyU Academic-led start-up) Silver Medal Omni-Cool-Dry™: Skin-like Fabric for Dynamic Thermal and Moisture Management Dr Dahua SHOU Assistant Professor, Institute of Textiles and Clothing Silver Medal AkkMore™: a Fungus and Plant Based Supplement Against Obesity or Prediabetes Dr. Gail Jinhui CHANG Research Assistant Professor, Department of Applied Biology and Chemical Technology, Co-founder of Bo InnoHealth Biotechnology Company Limited (a PolyU GBA Start-up PostDoc and PolyU Academic-led startup) Silver Medal Algorithmic Music Composition Software for Popularising AI Education Dr Gong CHEN PhD alumni of the Department of Computing, Founder of RhySoul Technology (Shenzhen) Company Limited (a PolyU GBA Start-up PostDoc) Bronze Medal   The Inventions Geneva Evaluation Days – Virtual Event this year attracted about 800 inventions from 25 countries/regions. For details, please visit the event organiser’s official website: [From PolyU Media Release]   Related News Articles: 理大探月相機系統揚威國際 [文匯報(Wen Wei Po)] 理大研探月相機指向系統日內瓦發明展奪最高殊榮 [星島日報(Sing Tao Daily)]  

29 Mar, 2022


Monitoring medical conditions from inside the body with optical fibre microsensors

PolyU researchers have developed groundbreaking optical fibre microsensors which can be implanted into people’s bodies for medical applications.   Once used mainly for the transmission of data, fibre optics technology is increasingly being deployed in medical applications. Professor Tam Hwa-yaw, Chair Professor of Photonics and Head of PolyU’s Department of Electrical Engineering, has led a research team to develop novel fibre optic microsensors, which can be implanted into people’s bodies to enable more accurate medical surveillance for surgery and treatment.   The research team used an advanced plastic material, ZEONEX, to develop the microsensors, while they also added a ‘side hole’ inside the optical fibres to enhance their sensitivity. Named the “Side Hole Polymer Optical Fibre Sensors”, the microsensors are biocompatible, supple and extremely sensitive to very small pressure changes inside human bodies.   The new microsensors can be as small as a few micrometres. “Our microsensors can detect extremely subtle changes, even a difference smaller than 1% of atmospheric pressure. They are sensitive enough to measure pressure inside the lungs while someone is breathing,” Professor Tam said. He believes the breakthrough will enable the development of a whole new range of applications for medical monitoring inside people’s bodies.   Overcoming the drawbacks of existing optical fibres   Although optical fibres are increasingly being used in medical equipment, such as sensor-based wearable medical devices and surgical instrumentation, the existing glass optical fibres and the traditional plastic optical fibres have several drawbacks. The former is too stiff and brittle, while the latter may absorb water that can affect the operation of sensors.   The PolyU-developed microsensors overcome these challenges, enabling them to be implanted inside people’s bodies. Professor Tam explained: “The plastic material ZEONEX has low moisture absorption and high precision in molding. To enhance the sensitivity of the microsensors, we have also added a side hole running parallel with the light transmission path inside the optical fibre.”   “Therefore, the microsensors can be made as small as a few micrometres and their sensitivity to pressure is 20 times that of traditional optical fibre sensors,” he added.   Creating new possibilities for medical applications   As the microsensors are humidity insensitive, shatter-resistant, chemically inert and biocompatible, they can potentially be used for a broader range of medical applications.   Cochlear implantation with higher accuracy The PolyU research team, in collaboration with the University of Melbourne and Royal Victorian Eye and Ear Hospital in Australia, is incorporating tailored microsensors into cochlear implants, so that surgeons can obtain real-time information on the location and force response of the cochlear implant during surgery, thereby increasing the implant’s effectiveness.   Navigation monitoring in cardiac catheterisation With high shatter resistance and biocompatibility, the new optical fibres can be used for precise navigation and shape detection for minimally invasive surgical procedures.   Bone fracture recovery monitoring The PolyU research team is collaborating with Monash University in Australia to integrate the microsensors into orthopaedic implants for monitoring bone fracture recovery. The photo shows that the microsensors (fixed by yellow tapes) are placed near the fixed implant of the fractured area (middle) of the thigh bone.   The future of microsensors   The “Side Hole Polymer Optical Fibre Sensors” research findings were published in 2021 in US-based The Optical Society’s Optics Letters. Some of the applications jointly developed with other universities have already been granted patents.   Professor Tam and his team are now working to expand the sensors’ ability to measure other physical or chemical changes in the body, such as acidity and temperature.   “We are also seeking to develop a sensing network that integrates our sensors with emerging technologies like the wireless Internet of Things. The sensing network would be able to give a comprehensive and precise picture of changes inside the human body, thus helping patients around the world through technological innovation,” he said. By integrating the new microsensors with wireless Internet of Things, Professor Tam (middle) and research fellows, Dr Xin Cheng (left) and Dr Dinusha Serandi Gunawardena (right), aim to develop a sensing network that can provide a comprehensive and precise picture of changes inside human bodies. [From excel@PolyU]

11 Mar, 2022


PolyU and University of Maryland from the US, jointly established the Centre for Advances in Reliability and Safety (CAiRS) Combining AI and innovative technologies to improve product safety and system reliability

In our daily life, there are many reliability and safety issues. Electronics degrade due to complex electronics ageing, latent software faults, and the interactions between the two. Also, electronic system failures are inevitable because of the current methods to assess reliability and safety. These issues are very likely to lead to serious consequences. In view of this, two universities, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU) and the University of Maryland - College Park (UMD), have jointly established a research and development laboratory, namely the - Centre for Advances in Reliability and Safety (CAiRS). The Centre gathers top researchers from all over the world, uses the most advanced equipment and leverages innovative artificial intelligence technology in order to conduct various product reliability and system safety research to accurately predict the occurrence of failures and prevent them from occurring. CAiRS has been admitted as one of the research laboratories in the InnoHK Clusters, a major initiative of the HKSAR. CAiRS has carried out five research programmes to date. They are “Anomaly Detection and Syndromic Surveillances”, “Innovative Diagnostics for Health Management”, “Prognostics for Remaining Useful Life Assessment”, “Safety Assurance: Improve functional safety” and “Data Analytics Platform for Reliability” (Totally have 15 projects). The range of applications of the research is very wide, including robots, medical equipment, vehicles, telecommunications, consumer goods, public utilities, transportation, microelectronics, electrical installations, sensors, IoT products and other advanced manufacturing technology. Moreover, CAiRS has signed cooperation agreements with 28 well-known local companies to jointly conduct research and improve the reliability and safety of products and systems. Prof. Wing-tak WONG, Deputy President and Provost of PolyU, said, “Harnessing its advanced equipment and, top-notch scientific research talents, CAiRS is dedicated to the research and development of breakthrough technologies. Their research solutions can be widely adopted by all industries in Hong Kong that value reliability and system safety. PolyU has been actively cooperating with world-renowned universities and establishing close partnerships with industry to benefit society through cutting-edge research. I believe that CAiRS can effectively translate scientific research results to real world solutions, creating positive impact for various industries as well as society.” Ir. Prof. Winco YUNG, Centre Director and Executive Director, Centre for Advances in Reliability and Safety (CAiRS) said, “CAiRS focuses on the use of artificial intelligence to develop new personalized management models. The application and results of the Centre’s research are very important to the development of smart cities. The scientific research team of CAiRS and I am delighted to use our expertise to collaborate with partners in different industries. CAiRS will build an international brand for the products and systems in Hong Kong, and contribute to the development of smart cities and advanced manufacturing.” PolyU is committed to conducting state-of-the-art interdisciplinary research in response to the needs of industry and society. With over 20 specialists and scholars from the Faculty of Engineering of PolyU and UMD, UMD's excellent research foundation in product reliability, and strong support from industry, CAiRS will bring benefits and contributions to smart city development and advanced manufacturing. [From PolyU Media Release]   Related News Articles: 理大產品研發中心 AI提升機械安全度 進駐InnoHK 與28企業合作 [星島日報(Sing Tao Daily)] 理大研發中心AI測產品安全 夥28本地企業 攻智能移動製造 [信報(Hong Kong Economic Journal)]

31 Dec, 2021


PolyU innovations in advanced textiles, new materials synthesis and centimetre-precision positioning win TechConnect awards

The Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU) was awarded three prestigious prizes at this year’s TechConnect World Innovation Conference and Expo (TechConnect) in Washington DC. PolyU research teams excelled in the area of “Materials & Manufacturing” with two innovations being awarded TechConnect 2021 Global Innovation Awards. The PolyU innovators had developed a nature-inspired ‘sweatable’ textile material capable of ultra-fast sweat dissipation; as well as inventing an environmentally friendly technique to synthesizing MXenes – a promising energy storage material designed to meet rising global energy demands. In the area of “AI, Data, Cyber & Software”, PolyU has developed 3D LiDAR-aided GNSS precise positioning technology that allows highly robust centimetre-level global positioning in urban environments for automated driving, which also received a TechConnect 2021 Global Innovation Award. PolyU is the only higher education institution in Hong Kong this year that received the awards, which recognise the top 15% of submitted technologies based on their potential positive impact in different technological areas. Other awarded innovators include those from global-renowned universities, institutes and laboratories, including several national laboratories affiliated with the US Department of Energy. It is the fifth year that PolyU research teams have been awarded the prestigious prizes at the world's largest multi-sector event for fostering development and commercialising innovations. Professor Christopher CHAO, Vice President (Research and Innovation) of PolyU, congratulated the teams. He said: “I am delighted that PolyU’s latest innovations – from advanced manufacturing, materials and electronics micro-systems to AI, data and software technologies – have been recognised and showcased at TechConnect. Not only does this acknowledge the value of PolyU’s impactful research and the innovations that shape smart city development and tackle various environmental and public health issues, but it also paves the way for further research collaboration in the global arena.” PolyU’s three award-winning innovations are: Sweatextile: A Nature-Inspired Textile of Unidirectional Water Transport and Dissipation for Moisture Management, Comfort and Protection by Dr SHOU Dahua, Professor FAN Jintu and Dr WEI Xin, Institute of Textiles and Clothing Going beyond the capabilities of existing wicking textiles, Sweatextile mimics the perspiration action of human skin, quickly directing and dissipating excessive sweat as water droplets on the outer surface, keeping the wearer dry, comfortable and having greater energy and endurance. In addition to enjoying fast wicking and moisture dissipation, Sweatextile protects wearers from external liquids such as rain and contaminated water. This innovation can benefit a wide range of consumers including outdoor enthusiasts and highly-active professionals. HF-free facile and rapid synthesis of MXenes related materials for Efficient Energy Conversion and Storage Applications by Professor HAO Jianhua and Ms PANG Sin-Yi, Department of Applied Physics MXenes have widespread uses in electrochemical energy storage and biological application due to their high robustness and non-toxicity. Traditional synthetic routes require the use of highly toxic hydrofluoric (HF) acid to synthesize MXenes, which raises considerable safety and environmental concerns. To overcome this problem, a HF-free electrochemical method has been developed to synthesize MXenes. The resulting MXenes exhibit stable and highly efficient energy storage and hydrogen gas synthesis capabilities, offering promising applications aiming to address the fast-approaching energy crisis and increasing energy demands. 3D LiDAR Aided GNSS Precise Positioning for Level 4 Autonomous Driving by Dr HSU Li-Ta and Dr WEN Weisong, Department of Aeronautical and Aviation Engineering The 3D LiDAR-Aided GNSS Precise Positioning technology developed by PolyU tightly couples its environmental perception capability with high-precision satellite positioning technology to achieve an intelligent self-adjusting satellite ranging measurement modeling and correction. This allows highly robust centimetre-level high-precision global positioning in urban environments to be achieved for Level 4 autonomous driving. Besides the three award-winning innovations, a number of other PolyU inventions were also shortlisted in the TechConnect Innovation Showcase which recognises promising technologies within their respective fields. The PolyU showcase included advanced material and manufacturing innovations, such as: an integrated microfluidic system that can replicate natural photosynthesis with greater energy efficiency; an eco-friendly smart coating material which adopts a “smart” cooling mechanism that can both enhance daytime cooling and minimize nighttime heat loss; and a novel antimicrobial 3D printing technology that enables new medical usage of 3D printing products to combat contact transmission of lethal microbes in public areas. For more details of the event and the awards, please refer to the official website of TechConnect at and the list of awardees at [From PolyU Media Release]   Related News Articles: 理大3科研成果齊奪全球創新獎 [信報(Hong Kong Economic Journal)]

18 Oct, 2021


Outstanding Alumni Award of PolyU Faculty of Engineering

31 Aug, 2021


22港科學家獲國家優青基金 有入選者研新冠病毒 冀與內地團隊合作

大公報 (Ta Kung Po)

23 Aug, 2021


科技部批准設國家重點實驗室 理大超精密加工技術成製造利器

香港商報(Hong Kong Commercial Daily)

23 Aug, 2021

chunyi team1

PolyU develops AI-based screening system for Knee Osteoarthritis

Knee Osteoarthritis (KOA) is a chronic degenerative disease with no cure. Early detection is critical for early intervention to prevent disease progression and to reduce the need for salvage joint replacement surgery.   A team led by Dr Chunyi Wen, Associate Professor of PolyU’s Department of Biomedical Engineering, has developed an artificial intelligence-based KOA screening system that can predict the risk of KOA progression at different time points in the future with an accuracy of 80%. The system won “Global Innovation Awards” at the TechConnect Business Virtual Summit and Showcase 2020.   The system was trained by US Dataset with data of over 10,000 KOA patients. Mr Justin Chan, MPhil student in Biomedical Engineering at PolyU, said the system can predict the risk of KOA with basic information of the patient, such as age and daily habit, plus a medical-related questionnaire of about 20 questions responded by the patient’s family doctor.   Dr Wen noted that under the current hospital flow, new KOA patients have to wait for years for treatment in public hospitals. Their system can provide early diagnosis and therefore reduce the consultation time by up to 90%. The outcome would also aid clinical practitioners to perform efficient triage and construct personalised treatment plans.   Mr Toby Li, also MPhil student in Biomedical Engineering at PolyU, pointed out that the AI system can deepen the collaboration between community medical and clinical systems, as well as improve the management of chronic diseases, and hence an expected reduction of health costs of HK$1.4 billion each year.   The team is currently applying to the Hospital Authority for the use of data of 100,000 KOA patients in Hong Kong, with an aim of enhancing the system’s accuracy to 90%. It is also applying for subsidies from the government to recruit 2,000 people for clinical tests within five years.   Moreover, a mobile application is being developed to measure and record relevant physiological data of the patients regularly, so as to facilitate continuous tracking and self-management of the disease. (Oriental Daily News A13, Hong Kong Economic Times A19, Ta Kung Pao A09) [From Department of Biomedical Engineering]   Related News Articles: 理大研智能預警系統 防膝骨關節炎 [東方日報(Oriental Daily News)] 理大研AI系統 預測膝骨關節炎 開發手機App助記錄數據 監察病情 [經濟日報(Hong Kong Economic Times)] 理大研究奪全球創新獎 助分流患者 膝關節炎AI預警 準確率90% [大公報(Ta Kung Po)] 理大研AI系統評估膝關節炎 有助提升準確度及節省診症時間 [香港01(HK01)]

9 Aug, 2021

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