Student Vox


A Nanoengineering research team at the University of California San Diego is developing a facemask strip that detects the Covid-19 virus if the wearer is inhaled or exposed to the open.

/ 15 February 2021

Soon, masks will not just be for protection but also detection. US National Institutes of Health-funded research that will develop a small test strip attached to a facemask that can determine the presence of Covid-19.

Jesse Jokerst, head nanoengineer of the research team, said that “The sensors would be able to detect the virus in particles from your breath and saliva, similar to a smoke detector.”

The device is a no-brainer. Jokerst said that the user would squeeze the sensor to see whether it turns color, denoting a positive reading. The process is similar to the one used to check results in a home pregnancy test.

The goal of the project is to develop a simple yet reliable surveillance tool that anyone can afford. However, Jokerst and the team reiterated that the strips would not replace the standard testing protocols. Their work is merely a tool for faster detection and aid to contact tracing.

Each strip to be manufactured would only cost less than a dollar to produce, and as Jokerst would like to say, the masks are the “perfect ‘wearable’ sensor for our current world.”

The team also envisions that their work could also identify other coronaviruses, SARS, or MERS virus variants.

If the research team has a successful test run on its prototypes, the device should be ready for use by the end of the year.

Scientists and epidemiologists suggest that the pandemic could last even up to 5 years, depending on research and discoveries.

This breakthrough in technology is an inspiration for people to be innovative and think of more creative ways to help early detection of coronavirus and its variants.