The coronavirus pandemic has left healthcare workers across the globe struggling with low medical facemask supplies. In response, scientists are experimenting with reusable, self-disinfecting masks that better tackle the spread of this virus and prepare for future outbreaks.
From developing 3D-printed nanoscale fiber stickers to porous graphene membranes and laser-induced graphene, researchers all around the world have been working on ways to design masks that self-sterilize and provide added protection.
After publishing suggestions to the National Science Foundation, Jiaxing Huang from USA’s Northwestern University became the first materials scientist to receive a $200,000 grant by the NSF, which has called for rapid response grant proposals that address the novel coronavirus. Huang and his team have now put aside their usual research to work on inexpensive ways to safely incorporate chemicals found in sanitation products into masks to improve their effectiveness in ridding of COVID-19.
“I was trying to motivate my peers and students that even though we don’t work on the front lines or in virus-related research, there are still ways we can help,” says Huang. “We want to be part of the long-term effort to contribute—not just for the current pandemic, but to be better prepared for future ones as well.”