Scientists in China design face mask that detects viruses in 10min

BEIJING - A group of Chinese scientists have developed a face mask that can detect viral exposure from a 10-minute conversation with an infected person.

Respiratory pathogens that cause Covid-19 and influenza spread through small droplets and aerosols released by infected people when they talk, cough and sneeze.

The wearable bioelectronic mask designed by Tongji University researchers can detect respiratory viruses, including influenza and the coronavirus, in droplets or aerosols, and then alert the wearers via their mobile devices.

The highly sensitive face mask is capable of measuring trace-level liquid samples of 0.3 microlitre and gaseous samples at an ultra-low concentration of 0.1 femtogramme per millilitre, said the study published this week in the journal, Matter.

The detection benchmark for liquid containing viral proteins in an enclosed chamber is "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", said the paper's co-author Fang Yin, a professor at Tongji.

Prof Fang’s team designed a small sensor carrying three types of synthetic molecules that can simultaneously recognise surface proteins on Sars-CoV-2, H5N1 and H1N1. Once those molecules click onto the target proteins, an ion-gated transistor integrated into the mask will amplify the signal and alert the wearer.

XINHUA

Prof Fang's team designed a small sensor carrying three types of synthetic molecules that can simultaneously recognise surface proteins on Sars-CoV-2, H5N1 and H1N1. Once those molecules click onto the target proteins, an ion-gated transistor integrated into the mask will amplify the signal and alert the wearer.

XINHUA

 

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 23, 2022, with the headline Scientists in China design face mask that detects viruses in 10min. Subscribe