Researchers from the Center for Physics of Condensed Matter (IFIMAC) of the Autonomous University of Madrid (UAM) are developing new technology to achieve protective masks consisting of non-woven textiles modified with graphene.

Since its discovery in 2004, graphene has been used in everything from aircraft wings and anti-corrosive paints to battery and body armour.

A peer-reviewed study due to be published in a scientific journal confirms that graphene atoms are shaped in a way that punctures its cell membranes to wreak havoc on the virus. The hyper-thin material made from a single layer of carbon atoms kills the coronavirus and is beginning to be used on face masks.

Non-woven polypropylene is the material used in most current mask filters. Graphene and related materials may be used for modifying future textiles.

The project involves three Spanish companies: Nanoinnova Technologies, which supplies graphene and derivatives; Iberian non-woven, which manufactures non-woven materials, and Elastic Textile, committed to the manufacture of elastic orthopaedic goods, which will produce the masks, as stated by the Sinc Agency.

The researchers state that they aim to introduce two-dimensional materials such as graphene and/or its derivatives, such as graphene oxide, to build a specific antiviral barrier in SARS-CoV-2. The process is easy and scalable, based on a patent established which allows graphene ‘inks’ to be produced.

The aim of the project is to develop a technology that will help improve the effectiveness and comfort of masks and other prophylactic textiles designed against the SARS-CoV-2 virus but is also adaptable to other pathogenic agents.