a team of researchers at MIT has been working on taking face masks one step further — from filtering to inactivating the viruses. the result is a reusable mask with an incorporated heated copper mesh powered by a battery that can rapidly degrade viral particles. surrounded by insulating neoprene, the mask would allow users to breathe clean air both in and out.

MIT researchers design face mask that inactivates coronaviruses using heat
images courtesy of the researchers © MIT



published on a preprint server but not yet peer-reviewed, the research says that as the person wearing the mask breathes, the viruses in the air are slowed down and inactivated by the mesh and high temperatures. this type of mask would be highly beneficial for people or spaces where social distancing can’t be  achieved, like health professionals or a crowded bus.


‘the masks that we wear now are designed to capture some of the virus. they do offer protection, but there’s no one really thinking about inactivating the virus and sterilizing the air. that surprised me,’ says michael strano, the carbon P. dubbs professor of chemical engineering at MIT.

MIT researchers design face mask that inactivates coronaviruses using heat



the paper states that the researchers calculated how fast coronaviruses degrade at certain temperatures and trapping conditions. they found that at 90ºC, the 0.1-millimeter thick copper mesh could reduce between a thousandfold and millionfold of the viral particles. equipped with a 9-volt battery, the current prototype is able to heat the mask and cool the air before it’s inhaled.

MIT researchers design face mask that inactivates coronaviruses using heat



‘what we show is that it’s possible to wear something on your face that’s not too cumbersome, that can actually allow you to breathe medically sterile air,’ strano concludes. ‘the prospect of being able to breathe in medically sterile air and breathe out medically sterile air, protecting the people around you and protecting yourself, is just the next step. it’s better technology.’



project info:


name: heated face mask

senior author: michael strano

lead author: samuel faucher

other authors: MIT graduate students daniel lundberg, xinyao liang, and xiaojia jin; undergraduate rosalie phillips; postdoc dorsa parviz; and jacopo buongiorno, the TEPCO professor of nuclear science and engineering at MIT