Thomas Jefferson student from Loudoun proposes idea for graphene face-mask (Re: Loudoun Times Mirror)
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Thomas Jefferson High School junior Parnika Saxena, 16, proposes the idea of a face-mask made of graphene that might more effectively help quell the spread of COVID-19.
Parnika Saxena, a junior at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, has combined her experience in the classroom and the Nanotechnology Club with outside research to propose the creation of graphene face-masks that, if put into practice, may help slow the spread of coronavirus.
“There are two major crises occurring in our world today: health and scarcity,” Saxena, a 16-year-old from Chantilly, said in a prepared statement. “Nanotechnology just may be the solution.”
Standard surgical masks, Saxena argues, provide less-than-ideal personal protection for several reasons: filters that cannot stop tiny air particles like those that carry COVID-19; their loose fit; and their limit to one use.
“With the production of graphene masks, health care workers, the sick and the healthy can effectively and comfortably protect themselves from COVID-19,” she said. “Certain properties of graphene allow for the production of masks that are breathable, flexible, stretchable, lightweight, strong and transparent.”
According to Saxena’s video proposal, graphene is impermeable to the point that even helium, the smallest atom, cannot pass through a sheet of graphene. However, when in contact with nitrogen — which makes up most of the air we breathe — some carbon bonds in the graphene break, selectively allowing oxygen to flow through.
Saxena told the Times-Mirror graphene’s flexibility would allow it to form a covering for all facial orifices. She has reached out to several people that might be able to test her idea or verify its validity, including teachers, college professors and lab directors.
“Seeing the great potential of graphene masks to help prevent the increase of COVID-19 cases, I sincerely hope that those with the required resources can perhaps test this idea and, in turn, help our world curb the effects of this pandemic,” she said.
Saxena’s video announcement is viewable here
Written by: Times-Mirror Staff Reporter