Oak Ridge National Laboratory: Nanoscience – Blowing the whistle on COVID-19

Collaborators at Oak Ridge National Laboratory and the University of Tennessee Health Science Center are developing a breath-sampling whistle that could make COVID-19 screening easy to do at home.

The technology incorporates a unique hydrogel material to capture aerosols from exhaled breath and preserve the samples, which could either be sent to a lab for analysis or, for a fully at-home approach, transferred to an accompanying test kit that could detect the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19.

“Our motivation is to put actionable information in the hands of users to help them make timely decisions, such as whether to go to work or school, quarantine, or seek medical care,” said UTHSC’s Dr. Scott Strome.

The user-friendly testing format is suitable for a broad range of users, including children and the elderly. The prototype was 3D printed at ORNL’s Center for Nanophase Materials Sciences and designed for low-cost mass production.

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