Man behind the N95 mask's invention, looking at the crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic has come out of his retirement to research on upgrading the existing masks. It has been 30 years to the invention.

Peter Tsai, a material scientist and an engineer who invented the N95 masks that remove not less than 95 percent of submicron particles said that he would return to research to find safe disinfecting and sterilizing methods in order to make the single-use masks reusable, reported NPR

N95 Masks
N95 mask from University of Tennessee University of Tennessee

Tsai taught at the University of Tennessee for 30 years and retired only last year. He said that many voluntary researchers have been asking him on his patented technology to safely sterilize masks for reuse. Queries had flooded his inbox, he added. He simply said "I just want to help people, and just do my job," in an interview on Friday.

This came at a time when Europe has seen more than 100,000 COVID-19 deaths in the continent as of today. US have more than 735,290 confirmed coronavirus. The world is facing a shortage of N95 masks amid rising coronavirus infections and the pandemic has become risky for healthcare workers.

Decontamination efforts

Peter Tsai
Peter Tsai, inventor of N95 masks University of Tennessee

In finding such a decontamination upgrade for N95 masks, N95DECON, a collective experimented using methods like heating, ultraviolet light rays and hydrogen peroxide vapour.

CDC recommends extended usage but limited reuse of N95 masks, some professionals are sterilizing the masks to get rid of the virus, but this could decrease the quality of the mask and its filtering power. However, Tsai's decision to research brings hope that there could be a better upgrade.

I'm just helping them wear the mask

One of Tsai's colleagues like the University of Tennessee Research Foundation's vice president Maha Krishnamoorthi says 'he's a rockstar,' and that he seemed to be a man of the hour, while Tsai replied with a 'No' saying "I'm man of the minute."

The praise belonged to health workers placing themselves at risk in fighting the coronavirus, Tsai said. "The front-line hospital workers are heroes. I'm just trying to help them to wear the mask," he added.