at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) in New York have developed methods
that give antiviral and antibacterial properties to N95 face mask filters. They
found that incorporating materials with antiviral properties into face masks
improved their ability to protect against infection while their prolonged wear
time reduced plastic waste.
masks were created incorporating metal nanomaterials such as copper in the filter
fibers capable of deactivating viruses. However, concerns over metal nanomaterials
detaching from the mask filter in rough use and inhaled, causing toxicity, prompted
another set of researchers to come out with polycations.
— long-chain molecules with a net positive charge — can be used instead of
metal nanomaterials to endow surfaces with antiviral activity. They kill
bacteria and viruses upon contact by disrupting their cell membranes. The
method confers antimicrobial properties to polypropylene fabric, which is
commonly used as a filtration material in N95 masks.
that we developed uses a really simple chemistry to create this non-leaching
polymer coating (on top of the N95 mask filter material) that can kill viruses
and bacteria by essentially breaking open their outer layer.” Dr. Helen Zha, assistant
professor of chemical and biological engineering at Rensselaer and co-author of
the new face mask research, said.
researchers found that the polymer-coated polypropylene could deactivate
several lipid-enveloped viruses, as well as Staphylococcus aureus and Escherichia
coli bacteria, upon contact.