Ultra-absorptive Nanofiber Swabs for Improved Collection and Test Sensitivity of SARS-CoV-2 and other Biological Specimens

Alec McCarthy, Lorenzo Saldana, Daniel N. Ackerman, Yajuan Su, Johnson V. John, Shixuan Chen, Shelbie Weihs, St Patrick Reid, Joshua L. Santarpia, Mark A. Carlson, Jingwei Xie

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


Following the COVID-19 outbreak, swabs for biological specimen collection were thrust to the forefront of healthcare materials. Swab sample collection and recovery are vital for reducing false negative diagnostic tests, early detection of pathogens, and harvesting DNA from limited biological samples. In this study, we report a new class of nanofiber swabs tipped with hierarchical 3D nanofiber objects produced by expanding electrospun membranes with a solids-of-revolution-inspired gas foaming technique. Nanofiber swabs significantly improve absorption and release of proteins, cells, bacteria, DNA, and viruses from solutions and surfaces. Implementation of nanofiber swabs in SARS-CoV-2 detection reduces the false negative rates at two viral concentrations and identifies SARS-CoV-2 at a 10× lower viral concentration compared to flocked and cotton swabs. The nanofiber swabs show great promise in improving test sensitivity, potentially leading to timely and accurate diagnosis of many diseases.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1508-1516
Number of pages9
JournalNano Letters
Issue number3
StatePublished - Feb 10 2021


  • SARS-CoV-2
  • biological specimen
  • collection efficiency
  • nanofiber swabs
  • sample recovery

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Bioengineering
  • General Chemistry
  • General Materials Science
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Mechanical Engineering


Dive into the research topics of 'Ultra-absorptive Nanofiber Swabs for Improved Collection and Test Sensitivity of SARS-CoV-2 and other Biological Specimens'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this