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CIT receives COVID-19 Rapid Response Funding for Barrier Masks

CIT receives COVID-19 Rapid Response Funding for Barrier Masks

01 October, 2020

Cork Institute of Technology has received funding from Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) for research into barrier masks in the ongoing battle against COVID-19. 

CIT staff had previously conducted initial research on the effectiveness of barrier masks in conjunction with the National Standards Authority of Ireland (NSAI). As a result of this work, the CIT team were appointed to the Irish delegation for the European Committee for Standardization (CEN).

The MASK: Making Aerosol Safety Known! project aims to quantitatively determine how well commonly available face-mask materials suppress the transmission of exhaled droplets. To reduce disease transmission large-scale mask usage must involve optimally suppressive materials that are comfortable to wear for extended periods, can be produced in large quantities and are re-usable and inexpensive.

The project brings together a multidisciplinary team from a variety of CIT’s research departments including Blackrock Castle Observatory (BCO) the Centre for Advanced Photonics and Process Analysis (CAPPA), BioExplore Research Centre and the MEDIC Design Group. The team will use imaging techniques previously developed for an astrophysics context, to directly measure the range of droplet sizes that penetrate the materials under examination. Andor Technologies, Belfast, is sponsoring a state of the art high speed imaging camera, continuing a long association with BCO and CAPPA. Andor is a world leader in design and manufacture of high-performance scientific imaging cameras, microscopy and spectroscopy systems.

Project leader, Dr Niall Smith, who is also CIT Head of Research and Head of BCO said, “The team are delighted to take a technique developed at the Blackrock Castle Observatory to measure the brightness of stars with ultra-high-precision and apply it to a completely new domain. This is an excellent example of a transfer of knowledge originally developed to improve our fundamental understanding of our universe to a practical understanding of the effectiveness of different mask materials and designs. The results will be useful not only during COVID-19 but also to assist with suppressing other airborne transmitted diseases”.

CIT’s MASK project is one of 58 new projects funded under the COVID-19 Rapid Response Research and Innovation Programme.


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