Face masks are effective in preventing the spread of COVID-19. However, they don’t protect against getting the virus but rather passing it on. Researchers in the US are investigating how to make masks that repel the virus.
According to Scientific American, researchers from the Indiana Center for Regenerative Medicine and Engineering at Indiana University are looking into “electroceutical” materials that create an electric field across the fabric. This in turn disrupts bacteria and viruses on the material.
Chandan Sen, director at the Center, explained that the material is printed with spots of silver and zinc. When it is damp, with saliva or vapour, the ions in the liquid trigger an electrochemical reaction resulting in a weak electric field that can affect pathogens.
This material is not new, it was developed in 2012. The researchers are now investigating its effectiveness in neutralising the coronavirus. They have not tested it on the SARS-CoV-2 but rather other coronaviruses.
This initial study focuses on a coronavirus that causes illness in pigs and an unrelated virus. The researchers placed the fabric in a liquid solution with the viral particles and after they were absorbed they rested for five minutes before being examined and tested.
The team found that after a five minutes rest, they only retrieved 24% of the pathogen samples.
This study’s findings were released on the preprint server ChemRxiv but the results have also been submitted to a peer-reviewed journal as well.
Image: Vomaris Innovations, Inc.