Scientists Claim They Have Developed A Mask That Can Detect The Presence Of COVID-19
Scientists claim they have developed a mask that can detect the presence of COVID-19. A chat lasting ten minutes with a person who is infected with the coronavirus could allow a face mask equipped with an integrated virus sensor to identify trace levels of the virus.
The mask would then send a signal to the smartphone of the person wearing the face covering, giving them the ability to decide whether or not to leave an area where coronavirus is present in the air - or to remove their mask if they feel safe when there is no virus detected and there is no risk of infection.
However, these results are based on the preliminary work that has been done so far. The technologyis still in the process of being developed, and the mask has not yet been tested against complete viruses; just the surface proteins of the coronavirus have been examined.
According to Yin Fang, the study’s corresponding author and a material scientist at Shanghai Tongji University.
Previous research has shown face mask wearing can reduce the risk of spreading and contracting the disease. So, we wanted to create a mask that can detect the presence of virus in the air and alert the wearer.- Yin Fang, a material scientist at Shanghai Tongji University
When infected individuals talk, cough, or sneeze, they expel minute droplets and aerosols into the air, which allow the respiratory bacteria that cause COVID-19 and H1N1 influenza to spread from person to person. These virus-containing molecules, especially those that are in the form of very small aerosols, have the ability to float in the air for an extended period of time.
The viral surface protein including trace-level fluids and aerosols was sprayed on the mask in an enclosed chamber by Fang and his colleagues as part of the mask's testing for the viral infection. According to Fang, the sensor responded to as little as 0.3 microliters of liquid that contained viral proteins. This volume of liquid is approximately 70 to 560 times less than the volume of liquid that is produced in a single sneeze and much less than the volume that is produced by coughing or talking.
Aptamers are a sort of synthetic molecule that can recognize specific proteins that are found in infections, such as antibodies. The group came up with the idea for a compact sensor that uses aptamers. The scientists upgraded the multi-channel sensor in their proof-of-concept design with three different types of aptamers, each of which is capable of simultaneously recognizing surface proteins on SARS-CoV-2, H5N1, and H1N1 viruses.
The ion-gated transistor that is linked will amplify the signal as soon as the aptamers have successfully bound to the target proteins in the air. The wearers will then be notified on their phones. Ion-gated transistors are a novel and highly sensitive type of gadget; as a result, the mask can detect even trace levels of pathogens in the air within ten minutes of being worn.
According to Fang, the mask would work really well in places with poor ventilation, such as elevators or enclosed rooms, where the risk of getting infected is high. In the future, if a new respiratory virus emerges, they can easily update the design of the sensor's for detecting the new pathogens.
Next, the group plans to work on perfecting the design of the polymers and transistors in order to cut down on the amount of time required for the detection process and further boost the sensor's sensitivity. In addition to that, they are working on developing wearable gadgets that can treat a number of healthailments, including malignancies and cardiovascular illnesses.
According to Fang:
Currently, doctors have been relying heavily on their experiences in diagnosing and treating diseases. But with richer data collected by wearable devices, disease diagnosis and treatment can become more precise.- Yin Fang
According to Al Edwards, a professor at the University of Reading in the United Kingdom, the theory has potential but needs additional testing. In his opinion, it is difficult to make the mask function properly in the real world.
The idea of employing tests that are based on very sensitive aptamers might also be applied in other contexts, such as installing sensors inside ventilation units or in hospital wards. This would allow for a more accurate diagnosis of infectious diseases.