Physicist Mahesh Bundy of the University of Okinawa has developed a technology to create cheap and simple filters for medical masks. At the heart of his idea is a cotton candy machine. It's simple - if you look at the problem through the eyes of a physicist, ordinary equipment can be used to create high-tech things.
Bundy was prompted to develop the technology by the high cost of professional medical masks. Fabric products can reduce the rate of a pandemic, but provide little protection from infection. For effective protection, N95 masks are needed, the filters of which contain particles with an electric charge that can attract and retain viruses. Bundy decided to create a similar material, but as cheaply as possible.
The raw materials for masks are common plastic, for example, found in bottles, bags and packaging films. It needs to be warmed up to soften and placed in a cotton candy machine. There, the material is crushed, turned into threads, which intertwine and create a complex porous structure. This plastic is already electrified, but the physicist further amplified the charge by placing individual fragments next to a conventional air ionizer.
Laboratory studies of the new material, including examination with a microscope and direct comparisons with N95 filters, have shown its high efficiency. This is not a medical study, so there is no talk of using the novelty against COVID-19. But the filtration coefficient of small particles and viruses of this material is no worse than that of the N95. Mahesh Bundy posted his developments in the open access, as part of the general fight against the pandemic.