MEXICO CITY (REUTERS) - Researchers at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (Unam) have created a face mask using silver and copper nano layers that neutralise Sars-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19, the university's official gazette said on Thursday (Aug 26).
Unam is calling the triple-layered antimicrobial face mask SakCu. Sak means silver in Mayan and Cu is the chemical symbol for copper.
To test the mask, researchers took drops with the virus from Covid-19-positive patients at the Hospital Juarez in Mexico and placed these on the silver-copper film deposited in polypropylene.
Unam said that if the viral concentration was high, the virus disappeared by more than 80 per cent in about eight hours. If the viral load was low, none of the virus RNA was detected in two hours.
"Upon contact with the silver-copper nano layer, the Sars-CoV-2 membrane breaks and its RNA is damaged," the gazette said.
"Thus, even if SakCu is disposed of improperly, it will not be a problem as it does not remain contaminated, like many of the masks that are thrown away."
The face mask is reusable and can be washed up to 10 times without losing its biocide properties.
Unam is not mass-producing the face mask and said that it currently has the capacity to produce 200 of them a day.
The research was led by Unam's Materials Research Institute.
It has not been peer reviewed.