Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM) – observing bio-polymer properties

“Plague doctor” masks were stuffed with fragrant herbs to protect the wearer from disease. CMBD researchers are now working toward the production of surgical masks made from seaweed bio-polymer films. As mentioned in earlier posts, seaweed have antiviral properties making them both biodegradable and excellent for health and personal protection applications.  From the samples made last week, we are looking for seaweed biopolymer films with an open pore structure allowing for breathability. Of the many samples observed under SEM together with CMBD researcher Wanling, the sample above was amongst the films with suitable pore size.

Most of the polymer films had no open pores making them suitable for other applications but rendering them unsuitable for surgical mask production.

Wanling Cai loading the seaweed bio-polymer film samples before coating with gold

Above: Samples are attached to SEM pinholder with double-sided carbon adhesive tape. They are then coated with a thin layer of gold before imaging to intensify electrical conductivity.

SEM observation desk

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