Engineers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard University have designed a face mask that can diagnose whether its wearer has the coronavirus within 90 minutes.
The prototype consists of tiny, disposable sensors based on freeze-dried synthetic genetic circuits that react with a particular target molecule, the genetic material of the virus.
The mask includes a small reservoir of water that is released when the wearer pushes a button to perform the test, and then the sensor analyses droplets from the wearer’s breath to detect whether there are any COVID-19 particles.
The results of the test are displayed inside the mask and seen only by the wearer. Peter Nguyen, one of the lead authors on the study, said the new invention can prove to be useful.
“This test is as sensitive as the gold standard, highly sensitive PCR [polymerase chain reaction] tests, but it’s as fast as the antigen tests that are used for quick analysis of COVID-19,” he said.