3D printing of microchannels and filter materials

One of the fundamental problems in filter materials is their effective use to counter the spread of infections, particularly viruses. Air filtration technologies for air and water environments are actively used to solve this problem in personal protective equipment (PPE), air purification systems in public places, and water supply systems by mechanical filtration of particles. The problems of current approaches to filtering air and water media are the accumulation of pathogenic microorganisms on the surface and volume of the filter, as well as their relatively low efficiency of work with microorganisms less than 200 nm in size with a low resistance of filter materials and optimal weight and size characteristics. Thus, new approaches to disinfection technologies are required, based on both mechanical filtration and methods of inactivating pathogens. The task is especially relevant in rapidly developing epidemics and pandemics and new biogenic threats.

UV radiation is widely used for disinfection, filtering particles of viral aerosols, or particles with pathogens in the aquatic environment. At the same time, additive methods for the manufacture of complex and optimized three-dimensional structures, including those suitable for industrial production, are being developed. On the third hand, photonic techniques allow materials to optimize propagation and maximize exposure to optical radiation in complex artificial environments. At the intersection of these areas, it is possible to create a new material combining UV disinfection approaches and an optimized complex three-dimensional filter structure.

The current direction is aimed at developing a new class of filtering metamaterials – combining mechanical filtering and optical disinfecting properties, thanks to the combined use of additive manufacturing methods and ultraviolet radiation for disinfection. The research results can be used to develop new generation filters with increased efficiency for use in personal protective equipment, ventilation, and water supply systems, as well as filtering devices for liquids and aerosols.

Within the framework of this direction, work is underway on the numerical modeling of structures, their 3D printing, and the development of functional materials to meet the following requirements:

  • Structures have diffusion membrane properties similar in design to HEPA
  • Membrane hairs are transparent to UV and act as light guides
  • During the operation of the product, the inner surface of the filter is cleaned from pathogens
  • Efficient delivery of UV radiation, which destroys DNA and RNA chains of pathogens, into the volume of a turbid medium for disinfection is provided.