Standard N95 masks and similar filter-based face masks can’t block 100% of virus because these pathogens are simply too small. N95 filter porosity is typically on the order of 0.3 μm where SARS-CoV-2 and similar coronaviruses are roughly half that diameter (~0.12 μm). Exhaled virions in droplets may be effectively trapped in the filter, but once dry, viable virus can freely pass, risking infection of healthcare workers and other’s relying upon such respirator masks.
The VirionMask™ (or Pinocchio respirator – Project working name) is simple in. UV light denatures or kills pathogens. VirionMask provides for high volume, low restriction breathing via a mirrored inside surface airway tube. Inside the airway tube is a UV laser light source, delivered via a right angle sidefiring optical fiber. The UV light source is provided by one or more UV emitting diode lasers, housed within a belt pack with rechargeable batteries, drivers, control electronics and an optical coupling port. A sidefire fiber is a small and highly flexible silica core optical fiber that collects the laser output and delivers it to the irradiation chamber defined by the mirrored interior of the airway. Baffles at the ends of the airway prevent emission of harmful radiation and wearer exposure.
The mask itself is made of a thin, impermeable polymer with airtight seals to the wearer’s face and covering both the mouth and nose. One or more large bore airways are formed within the mask surface or extending from the mask much like a snorkel. The impermeable mask and airway may be cleaned and sterilized, or disposed of and replaced at low cost, where the laser module and optical fiber are reusable.
VirionMask provides superior protection from airborne pathogens for healthcare workers and offers far higher airflow, enabling use in high exertion. The limited reuse or disposable mask itself is low cost and easily replaced while the laser pack delivers sterilizing light for at least a double shift before requiring recharge.