Scientists have developed a face mask that can identify common respiratory viruses, such as influenza and Covid-19, in the air as droplets or aerosols. Read below to know the purpose and procedure of designing the mask.
Face Mask to Detect Viral Exposure Within 10 Minutes Developed
Scientists have developed a face mask that can identify common respiratory viruses, such as influenza and Covid-19, in the air as droplets or aerosols. If specific viruses are present in the air, the extremely sensitive mask may inform people via their mobile devices within 10 minutes.
Respiratory pathogens causing COVID-19 and H1N1 influenza spread while talking, coughing, and sneezing through small droplets and aerosols released by infected people. These virus-containing molecules, especially tiny aerosols, often remain suspended in the air for a long time.
What is the purpose behind the development of sensor face masks?
- Previous research has proved that wearing a face mask reduces the risk of spreading and contracting the disease.
- The COVID-19 and H1N1 pathogens spread through aerosols. They transfer from one person to another while coughing, talking, or sneezing. Thus, masks help to reduce the spread of such pathogens from an infected person to the uninfected one.
What was the procedure for making Face Mask to Detect Viral Exposure Within 10 Minutes?
- Scientists tested the mask in an enclosed area by spraying the viral surface protein containing trace-level liquid and aerosols on the mask.
- The sensor responded to 0.3 microliters of liquid containing viral proteins, about 70 to 560 times less than the volume of liquid produced in one sneeze and much less than the volume produced by coughing or talking.
- The team designed a small sensor with aptamers, which are a type of synthetic molecule that can detect unique proteins of pathogens like antibodies.
- In their proof-of-concept design, the team modified the multi-channel sensor with three types of aptamers, which can simultaneously identify surface proteins on SARS-CoV-2, H5N1, and H1N1.
- Once the aptamers bind to the target proteins in the air, the ion-gated transistor connected will amplify the signal and alert people via their phones.
- An ion-gated transistor is a device that is extremely sensitive, and thus the mask can detect even trace levels of pathogens in the air within 10 minutes.
Yin Fang, the study’s corresponding author and a material scientist at Shanghai Tongji University said that the scientists also hope to shorten the detection time and further increase the sensitivity of the sensor by optimizing the design of the polymers and transistors. They are also working on wearable devices for various health conditions including cancers and cardiovascular diseases.
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