IIT Mandi Researchers develop reusable virus killing masks from tossed out ones

IIT Mandi

With growing ill health of India face masks retain a crucial piece of outfits, mainly in public spaces. Researchers from IIT Mandi have found an apt solution to use improper disposed PPE’s which are significant sources of transmission. A mask can be layered with Molybdenum Sulphide to make itself cleaning and reusable. One can simply put these masks under the sun and they would be good to go for reuse.

However, they are mostly invented to function as a physical barrier between the wearer between and the external environment, they must also act as antimicrobial agents to inhibit or kill pathogens.

With continuous rise in COVID-19 cases, India is struggling with managing the catastrophic situation. While the shortage of PPEs has led to panic, the perilous disposal of facemasks perpetual to multiply waste and secondary infections. To deal with this massive problem, a team of researchers at IIT Mandi has come up with an anti-bacterial, self-cleaning material for facemasks and PPE Equipment. This nanomaterial can be used to disinfect the masks thus rendering them reusable. Dr Amit Jaiswal, Assistant Professor, School of Basic Sciences, IIT Mandi, with his team of research scholars including Mr Praveen Kumar, Mr Shounak Roy, and Ms Ankita Sarkar, developed a pathbreaking solution in the form of antimicrobial material. It can be used to combat the second wave of COVID-19 in India. Dr Jaiswal shared, “Keeping the urgency of the pandemic situation and cost-effectiveness, we developed a strategy to repurpose existing PPEs and face masks. We have achieved this by providing an antimicrobial coating to these protective clothing/textiles.” The results of their recent work have been published in the prestigious journal of the American Chemical Society – Applied Materials & Interfaces.

Elucidating the science behind it

 A thin layer of Molybdenum Sulphide (notated as MoS2) is sharp enough to perforate the outer walls of bacteria and viruses. The team developed a 2-d nanometre-sized sheet of MoS2 and deposited it on a piece of cotton fabric and studied it. They reported that the redesign fabric had all the properties of MoS2.The nanomaterial has sheet-like properties with sharp edges and corners that act as nano knives to pierce through the bacterial and viral membraneswhich makes it an excellent option to use for covering protective clothing such as PPEs and facemasks.  These face masks would help in reusing existing clothing thus reducing the accumulation of single-use masks or discarded masks in general. The nanomaterial of Molybdenum Sulphide also possesses photothermal properties which enable disinfection when exposed to sunlight.

This nanomaterial solution be used for repurposing PPEs

“We began working on this solution around two years ago. There was no COVID then. We developed an antimicrobial nanomaterial that could filter viruses and clean itself. We have even published an article demonstrating the properties of MoS2. Furthermore, after pandemic hit our normal life, notion of using the material to repurpose PPEs. The urgent situation all across the globe prompted us to give shape to our idea,” said Dr Jaiswal

 Team of experimenter is ready to go on with the prototype of the reuse PPEs and masks. Now they are looking forward to tying up with industrial collaborators to scale up the solution. The research team has tested the solution in the lab and found the MoS2-modified fabrics killing the viruses. And are presently looking for partnerships for upscaling the idea before commercialising the solution. Dr Jaiswal also stated that it will need further optimisation before it can be made available into the market.