Scientists at the Georgia Institute of Technology have created a face mask that combines comfort, protection and effectiveness in filtering aerosol particles.
Scientists at the Georgia Institute of Technology have developed a new face mask by combining a material that filters aerosol particles with a stretchable fabric, ensuring protection and comfort for the person wearing it.
Hooks and eye fasteners ensure stability when attaching the accessory on the back of the head. There is also a pocket where an extra filter can be placed if the user wants to. In tests, the mask was washed 20 times and have not shrunk or lost its shape.
“If we want to reopen the economy and ask people to go back to work, we need a mask that is both comfortable and effective,” said Sundaresan Jayaraman, professor at the Georgia Institute of Technology.
“We have taken a science-based approach to designing a better mask, and we are very passionate about getting this out so people can use it to help protect themselves and others from harm.”
Unlike N95 models, most reusable masks allow air to leak through the edges. This increases the risk of contaminated droplets being expelled by infected individuals. This “leakage” is also uncomfortable – especially for those who wear glasses.
“If you don’t position it correctly and easily, you are going to have to keep fiddling with it. We see that all the time on television with people adjusting their masks and letting them drop below their noses,” Jayaraman said.
The perfect face mask
The prototype created by Jayaraman, together with scientist Sungmee Park, from the same institution, attaches to the back of the head and, in the front, protects the nose and mouth thanks to a material with the ability to filter aerosol particles.
This barrier is made of synthetic fabric that absorbs moisture, the same used in athletic clothing.
Scientists preferred not to use cotton because, although it is natural, it absorbs more moisture, reducing breathability and increasing the risk of microbes multiplying there.
More layers do not mean more protection
Experiment results have shown that is unnecessary to include multiple layers to ensure protection. According to Park, 16 layers of tissues and the impact on users’ breathing were tested.
They found that the more layers, the more difficult it was to breathe – and, on the other hand, the filtering capacity did not increase.
“Good filtration efficiency is not enough by itself. The combination of fit, filtration efficiency, and staying in the right place make for a good mask,” Jayarama said.
“Being scientists and engineers, we want to put out information backed by science that can help our community reduce the harm from SARS-CoV-2,” Jayarama concluded.
The team’s work was published last month in The Journal of The Textile Institute.