Electrified Fabric Could Zap the Coronavirus on Masks and Clothing

Image: Vomaris Innovations, Inc.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends everyone wear some kind of face covering in public places, especially where social distancing is difficult to maintain. Yet all such protective gear shares one significant problem: people still risk becoming infected with the novel coronavirus if they accidentally touch areas of the fabric that are contaminated with viral particles. The researchers co-developed the material with the biotechnology company Vomaris Innovations in 2012. Last year they showed that the technology could be used to treat bacterial biofilms in wounds. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Sen’s team tested its existing material on a different coronavirus strain that causes a respiratory illness in pigs and on an unrelated type of pathogen called a lentivirus. To study the fabric’s action, they placed a liquid solution containing viral particles onto the electroceutical fabric and a polyester control fabric without the metal dots. After the droplets were fully absorbed, and the samples had rested for one to five minutes, the researchers recovered viral particles from both fabrics and tested whether they could still infect the types of cells they typically target.He adds that large-scale manufacturing of the electroceutical fabric is already possible and that the costs of producing it are relatively low. “There is a huge unmet need to better understand modes of viral transfer that lead to virus transmission,” Karp says. “As we develop a better understanding of this, there is a huge immediate need to develop and quickly apply solutions that can reduce transmission.” “The main thing with testing [the coating on] SARS-CoV-2 is the biosafety level you need to test it, because it’s very hazardous,” he says. By developing materials that kill or repel viruses, researchers hope to make masks and other protective gear safer to remove and more effective against all viruses.

Read more at: https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/electrified-fabric-could-zap-the-coronavirus-on-masks-and-clothing/