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New research: For masks, clothes, wipes, a material that kills coronavirus when exposed to UV light

These materials consist of polymers and molecules known as oligomers. When activated with UV light, they provide a coating that the research showed to be fast-acting and highly effective, reducing the concentration of the virus by five orders of magnitude.

By: Express News Service | New Delhi | Updated: December 13, 2020 8:45:29 am
A stack on masks (File photo)

Although disinfectants such as bleach or alcohol are effective against the novel coronavirus, they are corrosive. In a new study published in the American Chemical Society’s journal ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces, researchers from the University of New Mexico have presented an alternative — certain materials that, when combined with ultraviolet light, can almost completely kill the virus.

These materials consist of polymers and molecules known as oligomers. When activated with UV light, they provide a coating that the research showed to be fast-acting and highly effective, reducing the concentration of the virus by five orders of magnitude.

In order for the material to be active against the virus, the material must be exposed to light. Light places the oligomer or polymer at the surface of the virus particle, triggering a process leading to the generation of reactive oxygen at the surface of the virus particle.

The researchers said this science can easily be applied to a variety of products — consumer, commercial and healthcare — such as wipes, sprays, clothing, paint, personal protective equipment (PPE) for healthcare workers, and really almost any surface.

“When incorporated into N95 masks, this material works well against the virus. In addition to trapping the virus in a mask, this would make for better PPE and prolong its life,” one of the authors, Eva Chi, said in a statement released by the University of New Mexico.

Unlike traditional disinfectant products, the material has been shown to not wash away with water. It leaves no toxic residue as a result of the photo-degradation process, Chi said.

The team used live coronavirus for the research. They prepared virus samples and developed a protocol for analysing them when exposed to near UV or visible light. 📣 Follow Express Explained on Telegram

University of New Mexico professor David Whitten, who led the research, has a company called BioSafe Defenses which has hired a former US Environmental Protection Agency official to help expedite the regulatory process in taking this discovery to market. According to the University, Whitten anticipates that once a material is approved, it will be only a matter of months before wipes, masks and other products are in the marketplace.

The research also found that adding the material into wipes would add only pennies per wipe. Additionally, the material could be added into masks and other personal protective equipment, changing the game for businesses such as gyms, airlines, cruise ships, groceries, health care facilities, schools and many more industries. In addition to coronavirus, these products could also help eliminate infections by the common cold, seasonal flu and other viral and bacterial infections that plague millions of people annually, causing loss of work and school time, they said.

Source: University of New Mexico

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