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Researchers have created masks that are highly resistant to viruses

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Polytechnic institute researchers Rensselaer A practical way to produce face masks N95 have created that has both an excellent microbial barrier and destroys the microbes that are around and in contact with you. These anti-viral and anti-bacterial masks may last longer, resulting in less plastic waste, as they do not need to be changed as often.

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In order to fight infectious respiratory diseases and environmental pollution, Helen Zhaassistant professor of chemical and biological engineering and member of the center of biotechnology and interdisciplinary studies in Rensselaer (CBIS), With Edmond Palermoassociate professor of materials science and engineering, began to cooperate.

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“It was a multifaceted materials engineering challenge with a great and diverse team of collaborators,” Palermo said. We think this is the first step towards creating longer-lasting personal protective equipment, such as the N95 respirator. It is also likely to help reduce pathogenic viruses in the air.

According to a recent study in Applied ACS Materials and Interfaces has been published, researchers have successfully applied broad-spectrum antimicrobial polymers to polypropylene filters used in N95 face masks.

Helen Zha says:

Active filter layers in N95 masks are very sensitive to chemical changes. This sensitivity causes them to lose their N95 properties. They are made of polypropylene, which is difficult to chemically modify. Another problem is that if the fiber network in the mask is disturbed, it will make it difficult for people to breathe.

Zha and Palermo, along with other researchers from Rensselaer, Michigan Institute of Technology, and Massachusetts Institute of Technology, covalently attached antimicrobial quaternary ammonium polymers to the surfaces of polypropylene fibers by UV irradiation (UV) connected.

He added: “The process we developed has a very simple structure to create this unwashable polymer coating, and it can kill viruses and bacteria by destroying their outer layers. This method is very simple and scalable.

This team used only ultraviolet light and acetone in their manufacturing process, which makes it easier to access them. In addition, this process can be used to develop polypropylene filters instead of making newer filters.

When this process was applied directly to the filtration layer of N95 masks, the team saw a decrease in filter efficiency, but there is a simple way to prevent this from happening: the user can wear an N95 mask with another layer of polypropylene with an antimicrobial polymer on top. . In the future, manufacturers could make a mask with an antimicrobial polymer embedded in the top layer.

Thanks to a National Science Foundation Rapid Response Research grant (RAPID), Zha and Palermo were able to start their research in 2020, when a small number of N95 face masks were available.

Earlier, even healthcare workers used disposable masks. Until now, in 2022, we see different types of masks. However, the rate of covid is still high.

In any case, the risk of another pandemic in the future is a definite possibility, and disposable masks are piling up in landfills every day.

Zha said:

We hope to beat covid. But this type of technology will be increasingly important. Microbes in the air are a great threat to human health. It’s time to improve the performance and sustainability of the materials we use to protect ourselves.

Shakhar Guard“Attaching chemical groups that kill viruses or bacteria on contact with polypropylene is a smart strategy,” said Rensselaer’s dean of engineering. “Given the abundance of polypropylene in everyday life, perhaps this strategy is useful in many other areas as well.”

This study was funded by the NIH/National Institutes of Health.

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Adib Zahedi is the CEO and Founder of mazhd.com. He has nearly a decade of experience in IT, including two years spent working on a Youtube Chennal. He is also an author and writes articles for mazhd.com. Has articles include tutorials and covers everything from Windows PCs to smartphone's software.

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