University of Dayton scientist working to develop self-disinfecting mask

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DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – A University of Dayton Scientist is working his way to becoming an entrepreneur with his invention of a self-disinfecting N95 mask. A spokesperson for the University’s Research Institute said the inventor has already created a start-up company to get the mask on the market.

Battery scientist at the University of Dayton’s Research Institute of power and energy division, Luis Estevez, has developed an anti-microbial technology that will filter viruses and other particles and kill pathogens such as COVID-19. The University said the added layer of defense will make the mask not only more protective, but also reusable, “providing a significant tool in response to the critical shortage of masks for health care providers.”

With support from UD’s Office of Entrepreneurial Partnerships, Estevez has already established his business, Advanced & Innovative Multifunctional Materials LLC (AIMM). Once prototypes are completed, certified through a medical laboratory and receive regulatory approvals, Estevez plans to license his mask to a medical equipment company for distribution.

“N95 masks bear that name because they filter a minimum of 95 percent of airborne particles, including viruses and bacteria, from passing through the mask to the wearer, explained Estevez. “That means the wearer is at very low risk for infection from the few remaining particles. While this type of mask is highly effective, there is a critical shortage of masks for healthcare workers—a shortage of hundreds of millions of masks in the U.S. alone, according to some reports. So providers are being forced to re-use them, but they are not designed to be re-used because of the risk of infection to themselves and others from handling masks that may have been contaminated by viruses and bacteria.”

Estevez is working with UD professors and pursuing funding to advance the technology to prototype stage. Depending on funding, a prototype could be ready in as few as four months, he said.

Director of technology partnerships at UD, Mathew Willenbrink, said a provisional patent on the technology and a license agreement between the University and AIMM are pending.

“Luis’ technology shows a great deal of promise in addressing a critical need, and he has already shown his ability to be an outstanding entrepreneur,” Willenbrink said. “We are happy to be able to support him in this endeavor.”

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