IISc develops antimicrobial composite material and testing protocols for PPEs
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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.
- 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.