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Face masks can detect virus exposure from a 10-minute conversation with an infected person - ScienceDaily

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Scientists have created face masks that can detect common respiratory viruses, including airborne droplets and aerosols, such as influenza and coronavirus.High-sensitivity mask, September 19, published in magazine casecan alert the wearer within 10 minutes via a mobile device if targeted pathogens are present in the air around them.

“Previous research has shown that wearing face masks can reduce the risk of disease spread and transmission, so we wanted to create a mask that could detect the presence of viruses in the air and alert the wearer. ,” said Yin Fang, the study’s correspondent. He is an author and materials scientist at Shanghai Tongji University.

The respiratory pathogens that cause COVID-19 and H1N1 influenza are spread through tiny droplets and aerosols released when an infected person speaks, coughs, or sneezes. Molecules containing these viruses, especially small aerosols, can remain suspended in the air for long periods of time.

Fang and his colleagues tested the mask in a sealed chamber by spraying it with viral surface proteins containing trace amounts of liquids and aerosols. The sensor responded to as little as 0.3 microliters of liquid containing viral proteins. That’s about 70 to 560 times less liquid than a single sneeze, Fang says, and much less than coughing or talking.

The team designed small sensors using aptamers, a class of synthetic molecules that can identify pathogens’ unique proteins, such as antibodies. In a proof-of-concept design, the team modified a multichannel sensor with his three aptamers that can simultaneously recognize the surface proteins of SARS-CoV-2, H5N1, and H1N1.

When the aptamer binds to a target protein in the air, an attached ion gate transistor amplifies the signal and alerts the wearer via mobile phone. The ion-gated transistor is a new type of device that is so sensitive that Musk can detect trace levels of pathogens in the air within 10 minutes.

“Our masks work very well in poorly ventilated spaces, such as elevators and enclosed rooms, where the risk of infection is high,” Fang said. He adds that the sensor design can be easily updated to detect new pathogens.

Next, the team hopes to reduce the detection time and further increase the sensor’s sensitivity by optimizing the polymer and transistor design. They are also working on wearable devices for various health conditions, including cancer and cardiovascular disease.

“Currently, doctors rely heavily on their experience in diagnosing and treating diseases. However, with the richer data collected by wearable devices, diagnosing and treating diseases may become more accurate,” said Fang. says.

This work is supported by the National Key Research and Development Program, the National Natural Science Foundation of China, the Shanghai Municipal Science and Technology Commission, the Shanghai Municipal Science and Technology Key Project, and the Fundamental Research Fund of Central University.

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