Researchers Discovered That Etching Grooves Onto N95 Facemasks Helps Prevent The Spread Of Disease

This increased pressure then forces exhaled air to escape from the sides of the mask and can potentially release more unfiltered airborne particles into the local environment.

Additionally, aside from raising the risk of disease spread, moisture build-up also makes mask-wearing much less comfortable– which could push community members to take them off altogether.

So, the research team sought to find a way to expel excess N95 moisture without transmitting viruses to the outside environment.

And ultimately, they determined that etching grooves onto the surface of N95 masks would help make the PPE better at repelling water droplets– hence decreasing the spread of disease.

To do this, the researchers utilized a technique known as plasma etching. Plasma etching essentially blasts pressurized gas at a material via a very high force– and this force ultimately creates tiny grooves in the material.

This technique is most commonly used to create electronic devices, but the team realized it would be extremely beneficial to the improvement of PPE. The result is a water-repellent material since the grooves are too tiny to hold water molecules. Instead, the droplets are forced to rest on pockets of air.

So, the researchers applied the same plasma etching technology to the front and back of N95 masks.

And afterward, the newly-added grooves were found to protect the front of the masks from any mist, rain, and other liquids.

The inside of the masks, too, actually wicked away moisture created by wearers’ breath– preventing build-up inside the masks.

The team also decided to test the possibility of using this plasma etching technology in a mass-production environment by producing 100,000 etched masks.

The researchers claimed they were able to complete this feat in “a reasonable amount of time” and believe that the next step is applying this technology to N95 masks sold commercially.

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