Wednesday, August 17, 2022

Researchers develop new N95 face mask that can kill covid virus

Researchers have developed a new N95 face mask that can not only reduce the spread of COVID-19 but also kill the SARS-CoV-2 virus when exposed to it.

Researchers said the mask can be worn for a longer period of time, reducing plastic waste as it does not need to be changed frequently.

“We think this work is the first step towards longer-lasting, personal protective equipment such as the N95 respirator,” said Edmund Palermo of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in the US.

“It can help reduce the transmission of airborne pathogens in general,” Palermo said.

In research recently published in the journal Applied ACS Materials and Interfaces, the team successfully grafted broad-spectrum antimicrobial polymers onto polypropylene filters used in N95 face masks.

“The active filtration layers in N95 masks are very sensitive to chemical modification. This can make them perform poorly in terms of filtration, so they essentially no longer perform like N95s. They are made of polypropylene, which It is difficult to modify chemically.

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“Another challenge is that you don’t want to disrupt the very fine network of fibers in these masks, which can make them more difficult to breathe,” Jha said.

The team, including researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in the US, attached antimicrobial quaternary ammonium polymers to the fiber surfaces of non-woven polypropylene fabrics using ultraviolet (UV)-induced grafting.

“The process we developed uses really simple chemistry to create this non-leaching polymer coating that can kill viruses and bacteria by essentially breaking down their outer layer,” Jha said.

“It’s a very straightforward and potentially scalable approach,” Jha said.

The team used only UV light and acetone, which are widely available, in their process, to make it easy to implement.

The process could be applied to polypropylene filters already manufactured, rather than requiring the development of new ones, the researchers said.

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The team observed a decrease in filtration efficiency when the process was applied directly to the filtration layer of an N95 mask, but the solution is straightforward, he said.

According to the researchers, the user can wear an uncoated N95 mask with another polypropylene layer with an antimicrobial polymer on top.

In the future, manufacturers could make a mask with an antimicrobial polymer incorporated into the top layer, he said.

“Hopefully we are on the other side of the COVID pandemic. But this kind of technology will be increasingly important,” Jha said.

Jha said, “The threat of diseases caused by airborne microbes is not going away. Now is the time to improve the performance and stability of the materials we use to protect ourselves.”

Nation World News Desk
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