Designers develop plant-based splash that could be utilized in N95 mask filters

Designers develop plant-based splash that could be utilized in N95 mask filters


  • Post By : Kumar Jeetendra

  • Source: Rgers University

  • Date: 07 Oct,2020

Engineers have invented a way to spray extremely thin wires made of a plant-based material that might be used in N95 mask filters, devices that harvest energy for electricity, and potentially the production of human organs.

The procedure involves spraying methylcellulose, a renewable plastic material derived from plant cellulose, on 3D-printed and other objects ranging from electronics to plants, according to a Rutgers-led research in the journal Materials Horizons.

Thin wires (nanowires) made of soft matter have many applications, such as the cilia that maintain our lungs clean and the setae (bristly structures) that allow geckos to grip walls.

Such wires also have been used in small triboelectric energy harvesters, with future examples possibly including strips laminated on shoes to charge a cell phone and a door handle detector that turns on an alarm.

This could be the first step towards 3D manufacturing of organs with the same kinds of amazing properties as those seen in nature. In the nearer term, N95 masks are in demand as personal protective equipment during the COVID-19 pandemic, and our spray method could add another level of capture to make filters more effective. Electronics like LEDs and energy harvesters also could similarly benefit.”-Jonathan P. Singer, Study Senior Authorand Assistant Professor, Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, School of Engineering, Rutgers University-New Brunswick

While people have understood how to create nanowires because the advent of cotton candy melt spinners, controlling the process has always been limited. The barrier has been the inability to spray rather than spin such wires.

Singer’s Hybrid Micro/Nanomanufacturing Laboratory, in collaboration with engineers at Binghamton University, revealed the basic physics to make such sprays. With methylcellulose, they have created”woods” and foams of nanowires which can be coated on 3D objects. They also demonstrated that gold nanoparticles could be embedded in wires for optical detection and coloration.

Journal reference:

Lei, L., et al. (2020) Homogeneous gelation leads to nanowire forests in the transition between electrospray and electrospinning. Materials Horizons.

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