California Researchers Develop Face Mask That Can Kill Viruses Once Exposed to the Sun

November 17, 2020 13:05:08

A team of Californian researchers has developed a cotton fabric that can release oxygen species that are reactive (ROS). The fabric does this when exposed to daylight, which kills microbes that are attached to the cotton fabric’s surface. The fabric is also washable, making it reusable and safe for its wearer. This research was reported in “The American Chemical Society Applied Materials & Interfaces” journal.

This news comes at a time when face masks being used are made from different cloth materials that filter tiny aerosol particles like those that are released by a sneeze or a cough. This leaves viruses and live bacteria on the masks’ surface, thus presenting a transmission risk to the wearer.

The modified cotton fabric allows a face mask made of the fabric to be sterilized by spending more time under building or office lights or leaving the mask outside in the sun, without any other decontamination measures.

The Californian researchers used ordinary cotton to develop their antimicrobial fabric. They did this by affixing chains of positively charged DEAE-Cl to it. After this, they used a negatively charged photosensitizer solution to dye the new cotton fabric. When exposed to light, the photosensitizer compound releases reactive oxygen species. The now dyed, modified cotton is then attached to the 2-diethylaminoethyl chains through strong electrostatic interactions.

The researchers also discovered that 99.9999% of bacteria were killed when a fabric was made using rose Bengal dye as a photosensitizer. The bacteria were eliminated within an hour of exposure to daylight. Additionally, 99.9999% of another virus, T7 bacteriophage, was inactivated in 30 minutes after exposure. The virus is thought to be more resistant to reactive oxygen species as compared to other coronaviruses.

Further testing demonstrated that the modified material can be exposed to daylight constantly for at least a week without the loss of its antimicrobial activity and be handwashed at least 10 times. The researchers say that the modified cotton fabric may be used in the making of reusable protective suits and antiviral/antibacterial cloth face masks in the future.

Additional research directed at improving face masks effectiveness has increased considerably since the start of the coronavirus pandemic. For instance, a mask with an integrated heated copper mesh was developed by a team of researchers from MIT, while another team developed a silicone mask that’s not only reusable but has N95 filters that can be swapped out. LG, an electronics company, has also developed battery-powered masks with built-in fans.

One health care firm that you should watch closely is Brain Scientific Inc. (OTCQB: BRSF). This company focuses on developing proprietary and highly innovative medical software and devices, and the company already has two products that have been approved by the FDA for use in the neurology market.

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