A mask that can detect coronavirus was developed by scientists in just 10 minutes.
The highly sensitive face covering can detect a new bug in the air and alert the user via a phone app. It can also catch swine and bird flu.
These diseases are spread through airborne droplets released by infected people when they talk, cough or sneeze.
Tiny, invisible molecules can remain suspended in the air for long periods of time, and people catch diseases by inhaling a large group of molecules that lurk.
Researchers from China tested the mask in a closed chamber by spraying a liquid containing virus proteins on the face.
The sensor responded to only 0.3 microliters of liquid.
This is 70-560 times less than the amount of fluid produced by a single sneeze, and even less than the amount of fluid produced by coughing or talking.
The sensor contains aptamers, a type of synthetic molecule that can identify proteins in pathogenic microorganisms.
They tested their model with aptamers they can recognize Corona virus infection covid-19, swine and bird flu.
After the aptamers bound to airborne virus proteins, a gadget called an ion-gated transistor alerted users to the pathogens through their phones.
The study’s corresponding author, Dr. Yin Fang from Shanghai Tongji University, said: “Previous studies have shown that wearing a mask can reduce the risk of spreading and contracting the disease.
“We wanted to create a mask that could detect the presence of the virus in the air and warn the person wearing it.
“Our mask will work very well in poorly ventilated areas, such as elevators or enclosed spaces where the risk of contamination is high.
“In the future, when a new respiratory virus emerges, we can easily upgrade the sensor design to detect new pathogens.”
The team now wants to make the mask detect disease even faster and create wearables that could help people manage other diseases, such as cancer and heart disease.
The results were published in the journal Matter.