We’ve come a long way from the early days of the pandemic when people found… um, unique ways to protect yourself from COVID exposure. Not only are N95 masks now widely available, but researchers are working to develop even more sophisticated masks to protect against pathogens.
Scientists in China have created a new type of mask that can tell if you’ve been exposed to respiratory viruses like coronavirus or the flu. In one publication paper Monday in the magazine Problem, The authors say that their mask can detect virus exposure after a 10-minute conversation with an infected individual. Stoneman: It can also alert the wearer through an app on their phone.
This is obviously incredibly useful for a number of reasons. For a person, the person wearing it can self-isolate and self-test once they become aware of exposure — thus preventing further spread. And it provides an extra layer of warning for anyone who is immunocompromised or living with someone.
“[We] wanted to create a mask that could detect the presence of viruses in the air and alert the wearer,” said Yin Fang, a materials scientist at Shanghai Tongji University and co-author of the study. , said in a press release.
The mask is based on a highly sensitive sensor mounted in front of it. When it comes into contact with a virus-containing molecule such as an aerosol and liquid released from sneezing, coughing or talking, it identifies the pathogen’s unique proteins and alerts the user on the device. their mobile.
It is also extremely effective. In tests, the study’s authors sprayed the mask with a small amount of viral protein. The sensor detects about 70 to 560 times less virus than the amount of liquid produced in a single sneeze. The amount is also much less than that produced by just talking or coughing.
“Our masks will work really well in spaces with poor ventilation, such as elevators or enclosed rooms, where there is a high risk of infection,” says Fang.
Now the team hopes that they will be able to update their masks to detect new viruses that may arise in the future. After all, necessity is the mother of invention. If there’s anything we’ve learned from the current pandemic, it’s that we’ve all been hooked by it. Hopefully, we will be able to face the next in a smarter and safer way.