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Desi US team of scientists develops self-cleaning masks that can “kill” the Covid virus | India News


NEW DELHI: A team of Indian scientists in the US has developed a new type of cotton mask that can inactivate up to 99.9% of viruses, including Sars-Cov-2, within 30 minutes of exposure to daylight. This means that the user of the new mask can simply take a walk in the sun to disinfect it. Innovation can slow down the transmission that occurs when viruses and bacteria that adhere to the mask are transferred to another location if the person wearing the mask removes or touches it.
“The new fabric we developed for the mask can also be used to make protective suits,” Professor Nitin Nitin from the department of biological and agricultural engineering at the University of California at Davis told TOI. The 45-year-old, a native of Amritsar, said the concept is feasible for large-scale manufacturing as it builds on existing capabilities in the textile and materials industries.
Professor Gang Sun, who was part of the team, said that they are now reaching out to industry partners to develop the new cotton fabric into different products.
Elaborating on the development, which was reported in the journal ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces this week, Sun said the team wanted to develop a tissue that releases reactive oxygen species (ROS), oxygen-containing radicals that when exposed to light they can kill germs. attached to the surface of the fabric.
At the same time, the fabric had to be washable, reusable and safe for the skin. For that, they needed the right photosensitizer, a compound that releases ROS when exposed to light. “We had been working on using photosensitizers as biocidal agents on material surfaces,” Sun said. Biocidal agents destroy, inoculate or prevent the action of any harmful organism by chemical or biological means.
It took several months to explore potential chemicals that could provide the desired photoinduced biocidal functions in the fibers, but the team eventually limited themselves to Rose Bengal, a stain often used to diagnose certain medical problems.
In testing, the team found that the Rose Bengal-dyed fabric inactivated 99.9% of bacteriophage T7, a virus believed to be more resistant to ROS than some coronaviruses, within 30 minutes. Sun said the fabric would use the same mechanism against Sars-Cov-2, inactivating the virus by oxidizing its genetic material and peptides.
The new mask was also able to kill 99.9% of bacteria and could be hand washed at least 10 times without losing its effectiveness.
In addition to the fabric’s obvious use in masks and protective suits, Nitin said its antibacterial and antiviral activity could extend to any fiber-coated contact surface. “Even the rose Bengal tint when added to plastic surfaces could have a protective effect,” he said.

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