A Graphene Mouth Screen

We are all intimate with face coverings to slow the spread of the coronavirus. Some are reusable, and some become waste after one use. [Dr. Ye Ruquan] and a research team from City University of Hong Kong, CityU, are developing an inexpensive reusable mask with outstanding antibacterial properties, and, get this, the graphene it contains will generate a tiny current when moistened by human breath. There isn’t enough power to charge your phone or anything, but that voltage drops as the masks get dirty, so it can help determine when it needs cleaning. The video after the break shows the voltage test, and it reminds us of those batteries.

All the remarkable qualities of this mask come from laser-induced graphene. The lab is producing LIG by lasering polyimide film with a commercial CO2 infrared model. In a speed test, the process can convert 100cm² in ninety seconds, so the masks can be made more cheaply than an N95 version with that melt-blown layer that is none too good for the earth. Testing the antibacterial properties against activated carbon fiber and blown masks showed approximately 80% of the bacteria is inert after 8 hours compared to the others in the single digits. If you put them in the sun for 10 minutes, blown fabric goes to over 85%, but the graphene is 99.998%, which means that one bacteria in 50K survives. The exact mechanism isn’t known, but [Dr. Ye] thinks it may have something to do with graphene’s sharp edges and hydrophobic quality. A couple of coronavirus species were also affected, and the species that causes COVID-19 will be tested this year.

An overly damp mask is nothing to sneeze at, so keep yourself in check and keep yourself fabulous.

Thank you for the tip, [Qes].

32 thoughts on “A Graphene Mouth Screen

  1. Bacteria huh? You breath in (and out) bacteria all of the time and most of them do nothing or actually do good, so unless there is an outbreak of phenomic plague I don’t see the point of that mask, furthermore the shape of those masks makes them a very poor choice for infection control.

    1. wear an N95 mask underneath it?

      Or it may not be a risk.


      “ The graphite used to fabricate EDM electrodes, and thus produce machining dust is synthetic graphite and considered to be a biologically inert material and producing dust classified as a nuisance instead of a hazard.”
      “As identified by the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH), the exposure guideline for time-weighted average (TWA) for graphite dust over an 8-hour period is 10 mg/m³ total3.
      At this concentration, the graphite dust would be thick enough to hinder visibility.”

      Also, they say synthetic graphite is much less likely to cause graphitosis.

      So it may not be an issue at all.

      1. I think a mask, which you’re breathing through, and which is likely to suffer some wear and tear (wrinkling, folding, etc, exacerbating any friability issues) is probably not a great way to test the issue.

    2. “has now mutated to be virtually harmless”

      I don’t think it has mutated to be harmless, it’s just that we’ve learned a lot about how to treat infections so survival is higher than it was early on. (More use of pronation, use of corticosteroids and remdesivir, and less/later use of intubation. )

      I don’t think 83 year old Silvio Berlusconi survived because the virus mutated, I think he survived because doctors know more. (And he wasn’t in an understaffed, underfunded nursing home with sick staff and high viral loads floating around.)

    1. I don’t think anything is going to evolve to pass through filters and survive UV light and all the other crazy stuff people are doing.

      All the hygiene hypothesis stuff I’ve seen has been about exposure to dogs and peanuts and stuff like that, not infectious germs.

      I don’t think there’s any reason to breathe the crap people cough on the bus at all, as long as people aren’t lysolling every surface even the ones that are already clean.

      I use a powered HEPA filter when I go out, and Purell if I touch filthy things away from a bathroom, but I don’t take many extra precautions at home with things that have basically no way to get the germs on them in the first place.

    2. We get plenty of exposure to bacteria and viruses during the majority of the day when you’re not wearing a mask. Just sleeping with the window open (if you’re not on the west coast) will give you hours of exposure every night of wild bacteria and viruses. Especially if you have a dog or cat who sleeps on the bed, too.

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