Swihart Lab Publishes Paper on Antimicrobial Mask Materials in Advanced Functional Materials

Schematic illustration and SEM image.

Schematic illustration (left) and scanning electron micrograph (right) of copper@ZIF-8 core-shell nanowire decorated mask material.

Published September 22, 2020

The Swihart lab, in collaboration with UB's dental and medical schools, have developed materials for antimicrobial masks with possible COVID-19 implications. This work will be published in Advanced Functional Materials (IF 16.8).


SARS-CoV-2 and other respiratory viruses spread via droplets and short-range aerosols generated when infected people talk, exhale, cough, or sneeze. Face masks are effective in limiting transmission. However, most medical-grade face masks are not self-sterilized or reusable. Their widespread use consumes tremendous resources and generates a corresponding amount of waste.

To address this challenge, the Swihart group has developed a novel material for treating the blown polypropylene filtration media used in medical-grade masks to impart antimicrobial activity. They have produced thin copper@ZIF-8 core-shell nanowires, where ZIF-8 is a zinc-based metal organic framework. When a virus- or bacteria-laden droplet contacts these nanostructures, they slowly release copper and zinc ions, which can kill bacteria and deactivate viruses. These were applied to filtration media by simple dip-coating [MS1] to uniformly cover the filter fibers. This ensures any deposited droplets will contact the nanomaterial, while requiring miniscule amounts of the material. The filtration performance of the media was maintained or improved. The proposed low-cost and scalable synthesis of Cu@ZIF-8 NWs and straightforward deposition onto filter media has great potential for creating reusable facemasks and other medical textiles to reduce disease transmission, resource consumption, and environmental impact of waste.

Read the paper

Copper@ZIF‐8 Core‐Shell Nanowires for Reusable Antimicrobial Face Masks
-Advanced Functional Materials, 13 December 2020