A New Gas Sensor to Identify Coronavirus Particles in the Air

Identify Coronavirus

All public organizations and institutes are currently working on their reopening plans once the coronavirus pandemic ends. One of the preventive steps that may help people is a gas sensor to identify coronavirus particles in the air.

The problem with most of the technologies and tests is that they are extremely slow. This delay in their processing gives this deadly virus sufficient time to transmit and infect new people. So a new type of sensor is developed to provide instant results showing if the air contains viral bodies or not.

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This sensor is the creation of  Nian Sun who teaches electrical and computer engineering at Northeastern University. Sun is working on a gas-based sensor that identifies different types of particles in the air. It is helpful against almost all airborne pathogens including the new coronavirus which spreads like anything.

The tool uses electrochemical sensors made of a particular type of material containing cavities that match the size and structure of coronavirus. It works on a jigsaw puzzle mode and the proteins from the virus perfectly adjust into the sensor cavities, channeling an electrical signal showing coronavirus in the air.

The reason behind developing such a device is to quickly find out if there is a risk of coronavirus for everyone breathing in the same air or not. As everyone knows this virus is extremely contagious that it takes seconds to spread from one person to everyone around him.

This sensor is able to catch the virus because its imprints are the same as that of coronavirus’s size and spikey shaped proteins. This shows high-level accuracy making this sensor to be a useful device in enclosed spaces i.e. offices and schools.

During the laboratory tests, the sensor has proved to be effective to detect coronavirus in the air. With the delay in diagnostic tests and longer reports turnover time, having a device that instantly finds coronavirus might be a real-time game changer.

Some experts believe that only technology can help to unmark the presence of coronavirus as the only way to save people from this virus is to prevent them from catching it. It is only possible if there is a way to know which area or space is enriched with viral particles.

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Sun was working on this gas sensor to find the explosives and drugs, especially at the security checkouts. This part of the job is usually left for the trained dogs but having a tech-help will make this process better. Just like these dogs can ‘sniff’ the narcotics, this sensor is able to detect coronavirus particles in the air.

Before the pandemic, Sun along with his colleagues was working on air-borne screening tests for certain medical conditions i.e. lung cancer. But as the pandemic approached they decided to use the same technique to identify coronavirus in the air.

Sun is collaborating with Jeremy Luban from the University of Massachusetts Medical School to conduct tests for this gas sensor. After it, he is planning to file for FDA’s emergency authorization to use this sensor in all public settings.




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