If you have an ACS member number, please enter it here so we can link this account to your membership. (optional)

ACS values your privacy. By submitting your information, you are gaining access to C&EN and subscribing to our weekly newsletter. We use the information you provide to make your reading experience better, and we will never sell your data to third party members.



Chemistry In Pictures

Chemistry in Pictures: A transparent, breathable mask

by Manny I. Fox Morone
February 17, 2022


A transparent square of fabric is held in so that a building can be viewed clearly through it.
Credit: Chao Wang

At a distance, this mesh doesn’t look like much, and that’s kind of the point. Researchers in the labs of Xianfeng Wang and Bin Ding at Donghua University wanted to make a mask fabric that could filter out pollutants but still be transparent enough to see a mask-wearer’s face. They developed this fabric by depositing electrically charged nanosized fibers of polyacrylonitrile on a mesh made of overlapping hexagons of nylon 6 (micrograph below). The fibers mainly stay on the mesh material, but also fill in little cavities, allowing for thin, breathable masks that can filter out more than 80% of PM0.3 pollution while enabling facial recognition.

Credit: Chao Wang. Read the ACS Nano paper here.

Do science. Take pictures. Win money. Enter our photo contest here.

Click here to see more Chemistry in Pictures.

A microscope image of a mesh of hexagons overlapping with other mesh of hexagons, creating something like a herringbone pattern. Each hexagon is about 2 mm wide.
Credit: Chao Wang
A person wearing a semi-transparent face covering with their mouth visible thorugh the covering. The person's eyes have been covered in the photo.
Credit: Chao Wang


This article has been sent to the following recipient:

Chemistry matters. Join us to get the news you need.