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The DVD team is developing a cost-effective technique for measuring HIV load in resource-restricted regions. Our client is Dr. Phil Thuma and the Macha Research Trust in Zambia. Our design is based on advanced fluorescence spectroscopy that utilizes a fluorescence protein probe, confocal optics, and low-cost, low-power electronics to assess viral load in a patient blood sample. Our timeline for a functional exploded prototype is Fall 2021.

Specifically, we are employing a method of spectroscopy that seeks to identify individual viruses in dilute samples by characteristic “bursts” in fluorescent and elastically scattered light. We have assembled a housing for a custom-designed detector, associated electronics, and signal processing hardware. One project goal is to integrate this modular design into a single printed circuit board. Communication between signal processing hardware and a software-based user interface implemented on a Raspberry Pi and touchscreen is achieved by the use of a Serial Peripheral Interface (SPI) protocol. The entire system is battery-powered. This system will allow for fast, effective viral load determinations in remote settings.

Publication Date

Spring 2021


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The work presented in this document has been provided solely for educational and edification purposes. All materials are composed by students of Messiah University and are not certified by any means. They do not constitute professional consultation and require the examination and evaluation by a certified engineer through any product development process. The contents documented are the produced work by the student design team but do not necessarily represent the as-built or as-assembled state of a complete and tested design; faculty, staff, and other professionals involved in our program may have augmented the student engineering work during implementation, which may not be recorded within this document.

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A Low-Cost, Portable Fluorescence Correlation Spectrometer for Disease Diagnosis

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