Scientists have developed a sensor that can detect both COVID and flu and tell you which one you’re infected with within 10 seconds.
The ultrathin nanomaterials in their new device can detect the viruses that cause both infections — and at a higher level than traditional methods such as lateral flow.
It’s made of graphene — a single layer of carbon atoms arranged in a hexagonal lattice pattern.
Its extreme thinness makes it so sensitive to any electrical changes in the environment, thus enabling the detection and differentiation of the presence of different viral proteins.
university Texas In Austin, the researchers took antibodies produced by the body’s immune system against the two viruses and linked them to graphene.
This means that when a sample from an infected person is placed on the sensor, the antibody binds to its target protein and changes the electrical current.
During the test, the sample proteins are placed in a fluid similar to saliva—even in very low amounts, the sensor can detect them in as little as 10 seconds.
“This will be very useful in winter”
Deji Akinwande of the University of Texas at Austin says this suggests the sensor could be used to identify the more sparse virus particles found in people’s breath.
“They could improve the ability to detect very small amounts of basically anything that needs to be sensed,” he said.
He added: “When the two viruses are circulating together as they did earlier this winter, it would be very useful to have a sensor that can detect whether you have the virus at the same time. Coronavirus, flu, none of the above or both. “
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COVID and the flu share many symptoms, such as cough and high temperature.
Mr Akinwande said the device’s success in detecting both conditions suggested it could be modified to test for other infections.
His team’s findings will be presented at this week’s meeting of the American Chemical Society.