Taiwanese engineer is inventor of N95 respirator masks

Material scientist Peter Tsai developed technology needed for N95 mask production

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Dr. Peter Tsai, inventor of N95 respirator masks. 

Dr. Peter Tsai, inventor of N95 respirator masks.  (CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — As the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to claim new victims around the world, many medical workers have relied on the N95 respirator masks to lower their infection risks.

Unbeknownst to them, the inventor of these masks is actually Taiwanese.

As a mechanical engineer and material scientist, Dr. Peter Tsai (蔡秉燚) is accredited with inventing the electrostatic charging technology needed to produce N95 masks, the highest quality medical masks known to health professionals. Tsai, who retired from the University of Tennessee in 2019 after teaching for 35 years, holds 12 patents in the U.S., Storm Media reports.

According to ETtoday, the "N" in the N95 stands for "not resistant to oil" while the "95" implies the masks' ability to block at least 95 percent of 0.3 micron particles, which may include viral droplets, dust, pollen, and air pollutants from factories and cars. Tsai's invention enables regular masks to filter out ten times more air particles — essential for frontline medical workers dealing with continuous viral exposure.

University of Tennessee Vice President Maha Krishnamurthy once referred to Tsai as a perfect example of a researcher putting their findings to practical use. Although the Taiwanese professor keeps a rather low profile and rarely discusses his inventions, many Taiwanese may have already come across his articles and advice on how to disinfect used masks during the pandemic.