Nanofiber Face Masks Enhance Effectivity, Want Changing Extra Typically


Polyacrylonitrile Nanofiber Mesh

Polyacrylonitrile nanofiber mesh earlier than (left), throughout (center), and after (proper) capturing water aerosols. The mesh turns into coarser as some nanofibers stick collectively after the captured water droplets are absolutely evaporated. Credit score: Southern College of Science and Expertise, Shenzhen, China

Movies seize nanofiber conduct below water aerosol publicity.

Since its outbreak, the COVID-19 virus has contaminated greater than 220.9 million folks worldwide and has claimed greater than 4.5 million lives, in accordance with the World Well being Group coronavirus dashboard as of September 7, 2021.

Nevertheless, many medical professionals attribute the consequential function of face masks in slowing the unfold of the virus and defending human well being.

Improvements to enhance masks efficacy, with rising concentrate on nanofiber manufacturing, have resulted in increased filtration effectivity, higher consolation, and simpler respiratory capability. Nevertheless, the consequences of microwater droplets on the integrity of nanofibers are comparatively unclear.

In Physics of Fluids, by AIP Publishing, researchers from Southern College of Science and Expertise in Shenzhen, China, study these ambiguities via a visualization of nanofibers interacting with water aerosol publicity.

The video reveals the polyacrylonitrile (PAN) nanofiber mesh capturing water aerosols. The mesh turns into coarser as some nanofibers stick collectively after the captured water droplets are absolutely evaporated. Credit score: Southern College of Science and Expertise, Shenzhen, China

“When COVID-19 first hit, face masks have been in extraordinarily brief provide all over the place, and folks got here up with every kind of how to ‘rejuvenize’ used face masks. It was like a chef’s contest, with boiling, steaming, grilling, and even smoking concerned,” mentioned co-author Boyang Yu. “Our instinct advised us this could’t be proper. Now we have to look into it and see what precisely occurred with the nanofibers.”

Yu and his colleagues used high-speed microscopic movies to systematically visualize the evolution of nanofibers manufactured from polymers with completely different contact angles, diameters, and mesh sizes below water aerosol publicity.

“Filming nanofibers is like taking portraits of infants,” mentioned Yu. “They don’t like to remain in place for the digital camera. It’s because nanofibers are very smooth and flimsy, particularly with the aerosol circulation blowing via. However with sufficient care, endurance, and luck, we finally obtained good pictures for our evaluation.” 

The photographs produced reveal nanofibers coalesce irreversibly through the “droplet seize stage” in addition to the next liquid evaporation stage, considerably lowering the efficient fiber size for capturing aerosols. They present hydrophobic and orthogonally woven fibers can cut back capillary forces and reduce the fiber coalescing charge.

“We confirmed three issues,” mentioned co-author Weiwei Deng. “One, nanofibers are very good at capturing droplets in aerosol. Two, the nanofibers are bonded collectively after the aerosol is captured. And three, this bonding is tight and irreversible, even after the captured droplets evaporate.

“Wetted fibers are likely to bond to one another in the identical manner that moist hairs are likely to bundle collectively. It’s due to the capillary pressure, which turns into dominant as the dimensions scale shrinks, and this can be very robust for nanofibers.”

The examine’s findings are anticipated to assist enhance design, fabrication, and use of face masks made with nanofibers. They supply direct visible proof for the necessity to exchange face masks regularly, particularly in chilly environments.

“The winter is coming,” mentioned Deng. “When it’s chilly outdoors, your breath incorporates extra droplets that will make the nanofiber mesh collapse extra rapidly.”

Reference: “Visualization of the interplay of water aerosol and nanofiber mesh” by Boyang Yu, Jian Chen, Daner Chen, Rouxi Chen, Yuenan Wang, Xiujuan Tang, Hsing-Lin Wang, Lian-Ping Wang and Weiwei Deng, 7 September 2021, Physics of Fluids.
DOI: 10.1063/5.0061847



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