Detecting Hidden Masks: The Innovative Device that Can Find Unused Masks in Minutes

2023-07-13 13:31:00

Even if, in view of the pandemic that has just passed, doubts remain as to whether humanity will act more cautiously in the next one, there is still hope in relation to individual aspects. It remains to be seen whether the toilet paper crisis will repeat itself. Meanwhile, at least some Europeans will recognize that masks protect people – especially others if the wearer is infected themselves. In contrast to Asian cultures, masks are “something foreign” to us, explained the then Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz in 2020; as if they had been used there for thousands of years.

Only a few in this country have incorporated them into their culture – but a device that would also be helpful in future pandemics could now ensure a quick search for masks that have not been used for a long time but are still hidden in bags and backpacks: US researchers have built a box , which can detect corona viruses in the room air. Like it in „Nature Communications“ This means that the device is able to detect Sars-CoV-2 within minutes.

The research team with the corona detector. : Image: Shubham Sharma / Washington University

To do this, air is forced through a funnel-shaped vessel at high throughput rates of a thousand liters per minute. A cyclone is created which ensures that liquid particles are collected by a centrifuge effect and the virus can be detected despite low concentrations in the air. This is done using a nanoantibody that recognizes the characteristic spike proteins. The device, developed as a prototype and already licensed for commercial applications, should light up when the virus is detected. In the future, it should also be able to detect influenza, RSV or bacteria.

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Monika Ganster Published/Updated: , Recommendations: 11 Heike Schmoll, Berlin Published/Updated: Recommendations: 57 Published/Updated: Recommendations: 9

It could provide immersion when showing pandemic films in cinemas, and hopefully also avoid contagion in clinics or schools. Secret tests probably stand in the way of the vacuum cleaner-like noises. It remains to be seen whether the invention will bring about a culture change – or whether people will remain indifferent when the alarm goes off.

#device #detect #aerosols #air

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