Newly injected nanowire material for face masks can actually destroy pathogens


The benefits of wearing face masks to help slow the spread of COVID-19 are now well understood, but scientists are still searching for better materials to use – and made of titanium oxide nanowires A filter ‘paper’ is showing great promise.

According to the developers, the new material is very good at trapping pathogens, and destroys them when ultraviolet light is applied, it can also be used in air conditioning units and ventilation systems.

While the nanowire-based mask looks like it is made from regular filter paper, it brings additional antibacterial and antiviral properties to the material, making it very effective in eliminating germs – and also making it reusable. .

“Since our filter is exceptionally good at absorbing moisture, it can trap droplets carrying viruses and bacteria,” says physicist Leszalo Foro from the Laboratory of Physics of Complex Matter in EPFL, Switzerland.

“This creates an environment conducive to the oxidation process, which is triggered by light.”

The photocatalytic properties of titanium dioxide are prominent – when ultraviolet light hits the mask, its fibers convert the moisture present in the nanocayers into oxidizing agents (including hydrogen peroxide), which then have the potential to destroy pathogens upon contact.

In experiments on materials, the team showed how a filter can destroy Escherichia coli Strangers of bacteria and DNA are impaired, essentially eliminating dangerous microorganisms in masks.

Although standard disposable paper masks – typically made of layers of non-woven polypropylene plastic microfibers – are also effective in preventing the spread of respiratory disease, they are just meant to trap pathogens, and are not easily cleaned. can go.

“In a hospital setting, these masks are kept in special bins and handled appropriately,” Farrow says. “However, their use in the wider world – where they are dumped in open garbage cans and even left on the road – can turn them into new sources of contamination.”

The new material still needs to be tested specifically with SARS-CoV-2, but researchers are confident that these nanowire masks can be useful in fighting global epidemics, the results they see. e coli And DNA strands.

Two of the study authors have established a startup called Svoxid, which will be the company to land this invention and develop content as a business proposition. There can be a lot of hurdles before any new invention comes on the market, but the team seems quite buzzing about its prospects.

“According to today, the technology we propose, especially under laboratory conditions, will allow for a filter production capacity of about 100-200 meters2 Per week. This is enough to make 40,000 – 80,000 reusable masks monthly, ”the researchers wrote in their study.

The best scenario of this kind can only happen after further development and research, but the team’s prototype certainly sounds interesting.

As our understanding of mask science develops, experts are getting better at figuring out which masks prevent viral drops most effectively – and with COVID-19 still very much with us, a mask that Actively destroying viruses will be extremely useful, if we can take it.

The research has been published in Advanced Functional Materials.

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