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Clean idea

Thinkboxers develop a faster, better way to disinfect hospital masks


Since early spring, staff at Sears Think[box] have focused on producing equipment and innovations that can help healthcare workers fight Covid-19. Ian Charnas ’05, the Director of Innovation and Technology at think[box], thinks the latest invention to come off the prototyping floor is the most exciting one yet.

A team bolstered with engineering students developed a device that can disinfect an N95 respirator for re-use in one minute. The product is seen as a potential godsend for small and medium-sized hospitals that need the masks but lack rapid decontamination capabilities.

“No one else has done anything like that,” Charnas told The Land, a new online newspaper in Cleveland. “We’re contributing towards human knowledge and adding something new to the conversation.”

The Synchronous UV-C Decontamination System even has a catchy nickname, SUDS. It’s a tall, narrow, single door box that baths an N95 mask in Ultraviolet C, a wavelength of light with the ability to kill germs.

The technology began in the lab of Jacob Scott, MD, a clinical assistant professor in the School of Medicine. His graduate students hypothesized that increasing the intensity of UV light could disinfect masks quickly.

Charnas tapped Badar Kayani ’20, the Prototyping Student Lead at think[box], to build the device, which is easy to use. Throw in a mask, shut the door, and in 60 seconds, tests show,  the mask is disinfected and ready to be re-used.

With a prototype to demonstrate, the team is now looking for a commercialization partner.

You can reach Ian Charnas at

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Ian Charnas

Badar Kayani

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