Innovation That Matters

Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh have created a washable textile coating that prevents viruses from adhering to its surface | Photo source Claudio Schwarz on Unsplash

A coating that repels viruses could improve PPE for healthcare workers

Health & Wellbeing

A team of researchers have created a textile coating that can repel viruses and boasts wash stability and mechanical durability

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Spotted: Now more than ever, personal protective equipment (PPE) is crucial to protect health workers from the spread of viruses. However, germs can still latch onto the material of the equipment. As a solution, researchers at the University of Pittsburgh have created a washable textile coating that prevents viruses from adhering to its surface. Made with polytetrafluoroethylene and polypropylene microfibers, this coating has the potential of addressing the shortages and improving the durability of PPE.

In the research so far, the coating has been applied through drop-casting — the appliance to the material with a syringe. It is believed that it can, however, be sprayed on or applied via dipping for larger-scale fabrication. The novelty in this protective coating is in its wash stability and mechanical durability, which the team have shown in their testing by running the fabric through ultrasonic washes that scour it with an abrasive sponge. Testing has shown that it can withstand more than 100,000 of such cycles, as well as that even after slicing and scratching the fabric with a fresh razor blade, it still demonstrated repellency.

The researchers had started their work before the COVID-19 pandemic and have tested the coating with adenovirus types 4 and 7, which is similar to SARS-Cov-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. They now plan to step up their testing, specifically against SARS-Cov-2 and are also looking into scaling its application to cover larger surface areas. Once this is done, the team can collaborate with manufacturing providers to turn it into products, be it medical or otherwise.

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