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Mater Today Adv ; 12: 100178, 2021 Dec.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1487907


With the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, reusable high-performance cloth masks are recommended for the public to minimize virus spread and alleviate the demand for disposable surgical masks. However, the approach to design a high-performance cotton mask is still unclear. In this study, we aimed to find out the relationship between fabric properties and mask performance via experimental design and machine learning. Our work is the first reported work of employing machine learning to develop protective face masks. Here, we analyzed the characteristics of Egyptian cotton (EC) fabrics with different thread counts and measured the efficacy of triple-layered masks with different layer combinations and stacking orders. The filtration efficiencies of the triple-layered masks were related to the cotton properties and the layer combination. Stacking EC fabrics in the order of thread count 100-300-100 provides the best particle filtration efficiency (45.4%) and bacterial filtration efficiency (98.1%). Furthermore, these key performance metrics were correctly predicted using machine-learning models based on the physical characteristics of the constituent EC layers using Lasso and XGBoost machine-learning models. Our work showed that the machine learning-based prediction approach can be generalized to other material design problems to improve the efficiency of product development.