Scientists have created a face mask that can detect common respiratory viruses, including influenza and coronavirus, in the air as droplets or mist within minutes.
The highly sensitive mask, which was unveiled Sept. 19 in Matter magazine, can alert the wearer over the phone within 10 minutes if targeted pathogens are present in the ambient air.
Face mask can detect virus exposure by 10-minute conversation with infected person. High sensitivity mask published in Matter magazine, may warn owners via them mobile devices within 10 minutes if target pathogens are present… https://t.co/TlqCrzNJLZ
— Dr. Eileen Choffnes (@EileenChoffnes) September 20, 2022
Respiratory diseases are transmitted by airborne droplets that an infected person releases when talking, coughing or sneezing.
Small, invisible particles can remain in the air for long periods of time, and people become ill by inhaling the wide range of particles that await them.
A team of Chinese scientists tested the mask indoors by spraying a liquid containing viral proteins onto the face mask.
The sensor responded to only 0.3 µl of liquid. This is 70-560 times less than the amount of fluid released during one sneeze, and even less than the amount released during coughing or talking.
The sensor contains aptamers, a type of synthetic molecule that can identify proteins in pathogens.
They tested their model using aptamers that can recognize COVID-19, swine flu, and bird flu.
Once the aptamers attached to viral proteins in the air, a device called an ion gate transistor alerted wearers to pathogens via their phones.
Study author Dr Yin Fang of Shanghai Tongji University said: “Previous research has shown that wearing a face mask can reduce the risk of spreading and responding to the disease. We wanted to make a mask that could detect the presence of the virus in the body.” air and alert the wearer. And our mask will work very well in poorly ventilated areas such as elevators or enclosed spaces where the risk of infection is high.
“In the future, if a new respiratory virus emerges, we can easily upgrade the sensor design to detect new pathogens,” he added.
The team now wants the mask to detect diseases faster and create wearable devices that could help treat other diseases such as cancer and heart disease.