IIT-G develops coating to modify ordinary cloth masks for better protection against Covid-19

Claiming that the modified mask is for large sections of the people and environment-friendly, the research team of IIT-G hopes for a sustainable revolution in mask production against the Covid-19 virus.



Researchers of the Indian Institute of Technology Guwahati (IIT-G) have developed a “Nanometer Thick Superhydrophobic Coating” material to modify ordinary cloth or silk masks, stating that it will provide better protection against Covid-19.

While highlighting the unique aspects of the research, Prof Arun Chattopadhyay said, “A cloth mask is porous to aerosol, therefore, ineffective against Covid-19 type infections. Our research is based on the principle of repulsion of the aerosol by the modified cloth while allowing the air to flow through the mask.”

Not only is it going to be economical and comfortable, but will repel the virus-laden droplets and avoid breathing difficulties, he added.

To test its breathability, the team measured the oxygen permeation through the mask with the instrument called gas chromatography and the results showed that the penetration of oxygen reduced by only 22 per cent for the modified Eri silk mask compared to the natural Eri silk mask, making it more breathable than the N95 mask, whose reduction rate came at 59%.

While describing the functioning of the mask, Dr Partho SG Pattader said, “The Eri silk fabric was coated with a biocompatible nanometer-thick coating of a chemical called Octadecyl Trichlorosilane (OTS) to attain hydrophobicity. It is a fluorine-free chemical, good for health and the environment while remaining breathable.”

The team further claimed that if any droplet hits the modified Eri silk mask, it bounces back into the air, rather than getting soaked by the fabric itself. These masks are re-usable after subsequent washing with household detergent and drying.

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