High-tech masks aim to step up fight against COVID

Current masks function as barriers to virus particles. Michael Strano, a professor of chemical engineering at MIT, is developing a mask designed to actually kill virus. “Filtering has its place, but so does just destroying the virus,” says Prof. Strano.

The mask design incorporates a copper mesh heated to about 160 degrees that traps and deactivates the virus. Neoprene insulation and a thermoelectric cooler will ensure the inhaled air is comfortable to breathe. “You actually breathe medically sterile air,” says Prof. Strano.

The mask, which also kills bacteria and mold, can be run on a 9-volt battery. Prof. Strano and his team are still building and testing mask prototypes, and their current research has been accepted for publication by AIChE Journal, a chemical-engineering publication.