Researchers develop self-sterilising N95 mask that can kill Covid virus

Washington, United States Updated: Jul 05, 2022, 07:48 PM(IST)

Representative image Photograph:( Reuters )

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The team, including researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in the US, attached antimicrobial quaternary ammonium polymers to the fibre surfaces of nonwoven polypropylene fabrics using ultraviolet (UV)-initiated grafting. The team used only UV light and acetone in their process, which is widely available, to make it easy to implement.
 

Researchers from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in the United States have developed a new N95 face mask that can not only reduce COVID-19 spread but also kill the SARS-CoV-2 virus upon contact with it. The mask can potentially be worn longer, causing less plastic waste as it does not need to be replaced as frequently.

As reported by PTI, Edmund Palermo, from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute said, “We think the work is the first step toward longer-lasting, self-sterilising personal protective equipment, such as the N95 respirator. It may help reduce transmission of airborne pathogens in general."

In research recently published in the journal Applied ACS Materials and Interfaces, the team successfully grafted broad-spectrum antimicrobial polymers onto the polypropylene filters used in N95 face masks. The active filtration layers in N95 masks are very sensitive to chemical modification. It can make them perform worse in terms of filtration, so they essentially no longer perform like N95s. They are made out of polypropylene, which is difficult to chemically modify.

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The team, including researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in the US, attached antimicrobial quaternary ammonium polymers to the fibre surfaces of nonwoven polypropylene fabrics using ultraviolet (UV)-initiated grafting. The team used only UV light and acetone in their process, which is widely available, to make it easy to implement.

The process can be applied to already manufactured polypropylene filters, rather than necessitating the development of new ones, the researchers said, as reported by PTI. The team did see a decrease in filtration efficiency when the process was applied directly to the filtration layer of N95 masks, but the solution is straightforward, they said. The user could wear an unaltered N95 mask along with another polypropylene layer with the antimicrobial polymer on top, according to the researchers.

(with inputs from agencies)

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