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These days all of us are worried about coronavirus and try our very best to protect ourselves in as many ways as we hear may actually work; wearing N95 masks designed based on nanofiber technology is one of the ways that is reported to be highly effective.
As the Wuhan coronavirus continues to claim lives in almost every country of the world, especially in China, where it first originated, the officials of this country strongly urge people to wear face masks in public to stem the outbreak of this lethal virus.
But a key question many people are these days asking is “Can wearing a regular surgical face mask protect you against coronavirus?” The answer is “No.” To make sure you do not catch the virus, you should wear a more specialized face mask, known as an N95 respirator.
Respirators are a particular type of personal protective equipment designed to reduce the respiratory exposure of the wearer to dangerous substances such as toxic chemicals or infectious particles. What all types of these personal air purifiers have in common are the filters specifically tailored for use in different environments.
Nanofibers are the perfect filter material for use in N95 respirators, which not only do provide a very large specific surface area, but can also be functionalized with various chemically active groups to improve the efficiency of the respirator in capturing naturally occurring nanoparticles (e.g., viruses), micron-sized particles (e.g., bacteria), and man-made particles (e.g., soot from diesel exhaust).
Several methods are available for nanofiber production, such as conjugate spinning, chemical vapor deposition, phase separation, drawing, self-assembly, melt-blowing, and electrospinning; among which electrospinning is a widely used technique for fabricating air filter media, because electrospun nanofibers have an average specific surface area of 1000 times higher than microfibers, along with an average pore size of 4 to 100 times smaller than microfiber membranes. Hence, an electrospun nanofiber membrane has a remarkably higher capturing efficiency than a microfiber membrane, making a perfect filter for N95 respirators.