Scientists develop new face mask material using protein-adsorbing silica particles on cotton substrates; material offers effective SARS-CoV-2 capture with 93% filtration efficiency, optimal breathability: University of Liverpool

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October 3, 2023 (press release) –


The novel coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19) has necessitated a global increase in the use of face masks to limit the airborne spread of the virus. The global demand for personal protective equipment has at times led to shortages of face masks for the public, therefore makeshift masks have become commonplace. The severe acute respiratory syndrome caused by coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2) has a spherical particle size of ~97 nm. However, the airborne transmission of this virus requires the expulsion of droplets, typically ~0.6–500 µm in diameter (by coughing, sneezing, breathing, and talking). In this paper, we propose a face covering that has been designed to effectively capture SARS-CoV-2 whilst providing uncompromised comfort and breathability for the wearer. Herein, we describe a material approach that uses amorphous silica microspheres attached to cotton fibres to capture bioaerosols, including SARS CoV-2. This has been demonstrated for the capture of aerosolised proteins (cytochrome c, myoglobin, ubiquitin, bovine serum albumin) and aerosolised inactivated SARS CoV-2, showing average filtration efficiencies of ~93% with minimal impact on breathability.



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