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Ultra-thin sensor ‘can detect COVID and flu within 10 seconds’

Many of us will have become used to testing ourselves for COVID in recent years, mostly using lateral flow devices. A team in the US believe they have developed a faster and more accurate sensor that can give speedy results – and could test for multiple infections.

Scientists have developed a sensor that can test for COVID and flu at the same time and tell which one you have within 10 seconds.

It is made from graphene – a single layer of carbon atoms, arranged in a hexagonal lattice pattern.

Its extreme thinness is what makes it so sensitive to any electrical changes in its environment, hence being able to detect and distinguish between the presence of different viral proteins.

It means when a sample from an infected person is put on the sensor, the antibodies bind to their target proteins and change the electrical current.

During testing, the sample proteins were placed in fluid meant to resemble saliva – and the sensor was able to detect them even at very low quantities, within just 10 seconds.

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Deji Akinwande, from the University of Texas at Austin, said this suggested the sensor could be used for identifying the even sparser viral particles found in people’s breath.

“They can improve the ability to detect very small quantities of basically anything that needs to be sensed,” he said.

COVID and flu share many symptoms, such as a cough and high temperature.

Mr Akinwande said the device’s success at detecting both shows it could be modified to test for other infections.

His team’s results will be presented at a meeting of the American Chemical Society this week.

Category: Technology

Source: Sky Technology

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