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Research Highlight | Argonne National Laboratory

Filtration efficiency of common cloth mask fabrics

In a study published in ACS Nano, researchers studied the ability of common household fabrics to filter aerosol particles. The results could inform the production of effective homemade masks during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Scientific Achievement

Filtration efficiency for fabrics used in cloth masks as a function of aerosol particle size was determined. The highest performers were hybrid fabrics with high thread-count cotton and electrostatic layers such as silk or polyester chiffon.

Significance and Impact

The study provided mask fabric selection guidelines based on systematic, scientific data. The paper was read by the non-academic community (cloth mask designers, hospital personnel and general public) with over 60 thousand downloads within one week.

Research Details

  • Testing of 10 to 6000 nanometer particle size distribution with TSI Nanoscan SMPS nanoparticle and TSI optical particle sizer was performed.
  • Experiments were carried out at the Center for Nanoscale Materials (CNM) following an emergency COVID-19 related user proposal from the Pritzker School of Molecular Engineering, University of Chicago.

Work was performed in part at CNM.


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About Argonne’s Center for Nanoscale Materials
The Center for Nanoscale Materials is one of the five DOE Nanoscale Science Research Centers, premier national user facilities for interdisciplinary research at the nanoscale supported by the DOE Office of Science. Together the NSRCs comprise a suite of complementary facilities that provide researchers with state-of-the-art capabilities to fabricate, process, characterize and model nanoscale materials, and constitute the largest infrastructure investment of the National Nanotechnology Initiative. The NSRCs are located at DOE’s Argonne, Brookhaven, Lawrence Berkeley, Oak Ridge, Sandia and Los Alamos National Laboratories. For more information about the DOE NSRCs, please visit https://​sci​ence​.osti​.gov/​U​s​e​r​-​F​a​c​i​l​i​t​i​e​s​/​U​s​e​r​-​F​a​c​i​l​i​t​i​e​s​-​a​t​-​a​-​G​lance.

Argonne National Laboratory seeks solutions to pressing national problems in science and technology. The nation’s first national laboratory, Argonne conducts leading-edge basic and applied scientific research in virtually every scientific discipline. Argonne researchers work closely with researchers from hundreds of companies, universities, and federal, state and municipal agencies to help them solve their specific problems, advance America’s scientific leadership and prepare the nation for a better future. With employees from more than 60 nations, Argonne is managed by UChicago Argonne, LLC for the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science.

The U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science is the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States and is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information, visit https://​ener​gy​.gov/​s​c​ience.