As cases of COVID-19 continue to rise, many people are choosing to wear a face mask when in public. Wearing a mask with effective filters can protect the wearer from bacterial and viral droplets and other environmental hazards. In response to this need, a multi-component nano-fibre membrane-based filter device has been developed by Amrita Centre for Nanosciences and Molecular Medicine (ACNSMM), Amrita Institute of Medical Sciences, Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham, Kochi.
“There is a lack of effective and quality medical masks in the world today that are also cost-effective. Nanomaterials provide an innovative alternative to existing masks,” said Dr. Shantikumar Nair, who heads the team of innovators, including Dr. Deepthy Menon, Professor; Dr. Binulal Sathy, Assistant Professor; and Dr. Reshmi C.R., Research Scientist. This mask uses a nanotechnology-based filter with ability to protect a wearer from harmful bio-organisms, including bacteria and viruses.
The filter is designed with at least two layers of cloth. Inside the layers of cloth is one or more biodegradable and biocompatible nanofiber-based filter elements integrated to the cloth. The nanofiber membrane has nanofibers configured to capture particulate matter in the nanoscale regime and further stops all microdroplets from passing through. Additional versions of the filter membrane are being made which contains other ingredients that inactivate viruses, bacteria and fungi.
The innovative nanofiber membrane of the invention is intended to be used as a disposable mask, or as disposable filter element in a facial mask. The mask can be rinsed and reused by the same user. The mask has been tested using fine droplet mist and shown to be much more effective compared to standard surgical masks. The masks are low-cost: Rs. 3-6/mask compared to Rs. 10 for a surgical mask and Rs. 150 for an N95 mask. The innovative membrane can serve as a filter membrane in an N95 mask.