A team of researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard are developing a face mask that produces a “fluorescent” light signal when a person with a coronavirus is detected coughing or sneezing. If the technology proves successful, it can treat defects associated with other screening methods such as temperature tests..
Lead researcher Jim Collins told Business Insider“When our innovation is ready, you can envision its use at airports while we are in security, while we wait for plane ride, and you or I can use it on the way to and from work. Hospitals can also use it for patients when they enter or wait in the waiting room as a pre-screen for the injured.”
Doctors can use these new masks even to diagnose patients immediately, without the need to send samples to the laboratory, while traditional tests and the associated delay have hampered the ability of many countries to control disease outbreaks, so tools that quickly identify patients are crucial.
Collins explained that the project to develop these masks conducted by his laboratory is still in the “early stages”, but the results have been promising. In the past few weeks, his team has been testing the ability of sensors to detect the coronavirus in a small sample of saliva..
The team is also experimenting with the design. Currently, the laboratory is discussing whether to include sensors inside the mask or developing a unit that can be attached to any normal mask.
The team hopes to demonstrate that this first prototype is already operating within the next few weeks.
“Once we are at this stage, it will be a matter of time to experiment with individuals who are expected to become infected to see if it will work in a realistic environment,” Collins added.
Collins revealed that the first experiments are conducted on paper with the aim of providing cheap masks, while it also appeared that the matter could succeed using plastic and quartz.
As for the sensors, they are made of genetic materials RNA AndDNA Associated with viruses, the genetic material is dried on the tissue with the help of a machine called lyophilizer, Which removes moisture from the genetic material without causing its death.
It is worth noting that before the effectiveness of the technology to identify viruses more generally was proven, in 2018, sensors in the laboratory were able to detect SARS, measles, influenza, hepatitis C, West Nile and other viruses.