IISc develops antimicrobial composite material and testing protocols for PPEs 

#GS3 #Economy #Science 

It stops particles over 0.3 micrometres in size with about 95% efficiency 

  • A team from Indian Institute of Science, Bengaluru (IISc) has developed a three-layered antimicrobial composite material of low-cost for making masks.  
  • The mask material consists of three layers.  
  • The outermost layer is made of polyester fabric with polymeric nanofibre deposited on it to make it water-repellent.  
  • The middle layer is also a polyester fabric on both sides of which polymeric nanofibres containing antiviral and antibacterial agents are deposited.  
  • This layer inactivates both bacteria and virus when it comes into contact with it. The innermost layer is a comfort layer consisting of cotton fabric. 

Testing anti-virus action 

  • The middle layer also has positively charged polymer (polycations) which inactivate the microbes that come in contact with this layer. 
  • Titers of bacteriophage (a virus that kills bacteria) were made, and the mask material was soaked in it for 30-120 minutes.  
  • The liquid was then eluted and poured on a bacterial colony where it was incubated for 24 hours. 
  • If the virus remained, they would have seen plaques.  
  • Instead they observed a flourishing lawn of bacteria.  
  • This indicated that the samples did not contain virus. 
  • The material is designed to cut off particles of the size of 0.3 micrometres to about 95% efficiency. 
  • Our technology partner (Resil Chemicals, Bengaluru) has expressed interest in licensing this technology and following bulk trials they would get it manufactured. 
  • Testing masks normally looks for the following parameters: particle filtration efficiency, virus and bacterial filtration efficiency, blood penetration, breathing resistance (difficulty in breathing), and how good a fit to the face the mask is. 

Physical parameters 

  • Centre for Nanoscience and Engineering, IISc, right now, their team tests masks for two factors: efficiency of particle filtration and breathing resistance.  
  • For instance, N95 masks are supposed to filter out 95% of particles of size 0.3 micrometre and above. 
  • The entire system is built with components that we could source from our labs and some components that we could 3D-print.  
  • The idea was to help hospitals or other agencies check the quality of new masks received or to test decontaminated masks for possible reuse. 
  • The team is also working on ways to decontaminate the masks and the number of times it can be recycled.  
  • However, they are clear that masks, especially the N95, are meant to be used just once, and reusing them after decontamination is really the last option. 
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