Dr. Sundaresan Jayaraman, a professor in the School of Materials Science and Engineering, here at Georgia Tech worked on finding a form-fitting mask that provided superior protection against respiratory viruses like COVID-19. These masks, which have been in development even before the COVID-19 pandemic, aim to provide a comfortable way to wear masks and still provide the most protection against foreign particles. The masks use a combination of barrier filtration material and stretchable fabric in order to hold their shapes and be form-fitting for their users. The barrier filtration is made from a moisture-wicking material that allows for the material to fit the user’s face without causing any restriction to the nasal airways and speech. The stretchable material provides holds for the ears and positions the mask on the face correctly. The mask also uses electrospun nanofibers to filter out the smallest particles, which makes it more effective than the N95 respirators. The main flaw that N95 respirators have is that it leaks air around the edges allowing for virus particles to be breathed in by the users. The leakage problem also causes discomfort to the user, where users eyeglasses would fog up and constant adjustment of the mask can dissuade users from wearing a mask in public.
I got the pleasure to work with Dr.Jayaraman and his colleague Dr.Sungmee Park when creating presentations for The Devil Wear Science event. As the event was a part of the Atlanta Science Festival, we got to showcase the true effectiveness and design of the mask to the viewers. During the event, the models for the event which included my partner, Carrera Ortiz, wore masks that were connected to a device that showcased the effectiveness of the air filtration system that the mask had. The device showcases how little to no particle was able to get through. It was exciting for me to get to be so up close and personal with what the mask can do and its effectiveness of it.
During the show, Dr.Jayaraman shared the way, design, and thought process of creating the mask and his reason for doing so. Though the importance of a highly effective mask might not seem like a big thing today, as more and more countries are getting rid of mask-wearing policies, it was not the same that could be said about two years ago. When COVID-19 was at its peak around April and May of 2020, many countries started to notice the importance of the mask and funded a project that could lead to a more effective mask. Dr.Jayaraman and his past research placed him in a perfect position to fight against COVID-19. Overall, the work of Dr. Jayaraman and his team serves as a testament to the power of science in solving real-world problems. By creating a mask that is effective, comfortable, and sustainable, they have made a significant contribution to the ongoing fight against the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond.
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