The sensor is designed to be reusable by being able to destroy the previous sample on it by producing a small electrical current that could heat up and remove or disintegrate the virus. According to Tabib-Azar, the entire process would use little battery power from the cellphone.
Another possible method for using the sensor, says Tabib-Azar, would involve putting the saliva sample on disposable sheets that are placed on top of the sensor like a Sticky Note. This would decrease cross contamination on the sensor and eliminate the need to heat up and destroy the sample afterward.
The device can also be designed to upload the results to a central server that maps out positive results in an area, giving researchers a clearer and more accurate picture of where hotspots are with big outbreaks of the virus. Because the technology – and a prototype – has already been developed to detect the Zika virus, says Tabib-Azar, he expects to be able to have a prototype of the new COVID-19 sensor for clinical trials in two to three months.
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