A New Use for Silicon Nitride Powder: In Fabrics
SINTX Technologies is one of the leading manufacturers of medical grade silicon nitride (Si3N4). Since our founding, we’ve been passionate about the capabilities of this material. We’re constantly thinking of new, innovative silicon nitride applications—and our latest is poised to revolutionize the fight against viruses and bacteria.
Several years prior to the emergence of COVID-19, we tested silicon nitride against viral strains. We hypothesized that the surface chemistry of silicon nitride would inactivate viruses, just as it suppressed bacterial adhesion.
Several viral strains were each exposed to an experimental solution containing silicon nitride powders, using standard testing protocols.
- Influenza A (common flu)
- Feline calicivirus
- Enterococcus 71
Remarkably, significant viral reduction occurred as soon as one minute after exposure to the silicon nitride material. In 2020, we found that in a controlled laboratory study, the SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) virus was similarly inactivated when exposed to SINTX’s sintered silicon nitride powder.
Embedding silicon nitride powder in fabrics
With this information, we developed a powdered form of silicon nitride, FleX SN-AP (for “antipathogenic powder”). Working with companies like O2TODAY, we can incorporate the unique composition of FleX SN-AP into fabric fibers that are then used in a non-woven face mask material. This means we can create face masks and other fabric materials that inactivate viral particles, thereby limiting the spread of disease.
What this means
Current antiviral mask technologies rely on copper, citric acid, or other materials that are effective for 4 hours or less, which limits their viability to short-term, one-time use. Given that SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) has been shown to remain active on mask filter materials for up to 7 days, the prolonged use and reuse of masks and mask filters presents a significant secondary exposure risk.
FleX SN-AP is more effective than other materials, beginning to inactivate viruses after just a minute of exposure. Embedding this silicon nitride powder into fabrics will be revolutionary for surgical masks and gowns, hospital curtains and bedding, and even wound dressings. Silicon nitride in fabrics will help minimize both the spread of viruses like COVID-19 and the chance for healthcare-associated infections