Vagisha Kaushik|Jan 19, 2022
IIT Guwahati develops masks with better protection against COVID-19
IIT Guwahati researchers modifed cloth masks for better protection against COVID-19.
NEW DELHI: Researchers at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Guwahati developed a ‘nanometer-thick superhydrophobic coating’ that can be used to modify ordinary cloth masks. These masks are claimed to offer better protection against COVID-19, said a statement from the institute.
“N95 masks or double masking protects people to a great extent from Coronavirus. But the drawback is that people undergo suffocation after wearing them for a long time,” said the World Health Organisation (WHO) guidelines. N95 masks are also expensive and hence many cannot afford it.
The coating material developed by IIT Guwahati researchers was used to modify an eri silk mask into a hydrophobic mask to repel virus-laden droplets. “It was observed that oxygen penetration reduces by only 22% for the modified mask compared to the natural mask. The modified mask is way more breathable than the N95 mask with almost similar protection against aerosol-driven infections,” mentioned the press release by IIT Guwahati.
The modified eri silk mask repels droplets. They can be reused again after subsequent washing and drying. With the new COVID variants like omricon spreading, precautionary measures has to be efficient.
“A cloth mask is largely porous to aerosol and thus cannot effectively prevent COVID-19 type infection. Although they are still better than wearing no mask, an improved version that would prevent the entry or exit of the aerosol from the modified cloth mask was needed. We have worked on that based on the principle of repulsion of the aerosol by the modified cloth while allowing the air to flow through the mask. A simple coating of the hydrophobic molecule on the silk cloth worked well here,” said Arun Chattopadhyay, professor at the department of chemistry and Centre for Nanotechnology, IIT Guwahati, said.
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