If we’ve learned anything from the pandemic, it’s that crises breed innovation. A recent Medgadget article discussed an innovative new face mask that alerts wearers of the presence of viral particles in the surrounding area. The masks were created by a team of scientists at China’s Shanghai Tongji University to identify a range of viruses including those behind influenza and COVID-19.
The masks contain aptamers, or short DNA or RNA sequences that bind to protein targets. If a viral particle binds to the aptamer, the signal is boosted by an ion-gated transistor so that the virus can be detected. A message is then sent to the wearer’s smartphone within minutes. The team is now working to reduce the time between binding and notifying to make the mask system as efficient as possible.