Development of Advanced Graphene-Based Antiviral Nanocomposites against COVID-19

Chen, Aicheng | $50,000

Ontario University of Guelph 2020 NSERC Alliance COVID-19 Grant

The outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is a serious threat to humanity worldwide. The global implications of this pandemic and its associated lockdown are unprecedented in terms of the strain on economies and individuals in almost all occupations. It is known that COVID‑19 is a respiratory infection, which can be transmitted from person to person via small aerosolized droplets. People may directly contract COVID‑19 if they inhale these potentially infective, virus laden respiratory droplets, or come into contact with contaminated objects or surfaces. To reduce the risk of droplet transmission, face masks can serve as a primary barrier. However, there is a significant shortage of N95-rated respirator masks for front-line workers and health care professionals who are dealing with the COVID‑19 pandemic. Furthermore, the life span of the SARS-CoV-2 virus is reported to be between 4 and 72 hours depending on the surface. Hence, it is important to develop a re-usable face mask with enhanced antiviral properties. The goal of this project is to develop advanced functional graphene-based nanocomposites with robust antiviral and antibacterial activities. This project builds on our recent NSERC CRD / OCE VIP II project collaborated with ZEN Graphene Solutions Ltd. The proposed functional nanocomposites can be coated onto various materials to create an advanced filter for the fabrication of novel re-usable masks. The fabricated graphene-based nanocomposite layer not only filters out particulates, but also binds with and disinfects coronavirus. In addition to face masks, there also exists an immense demand for other personal protective equipment (PPE) such as face shields and aprons to protect front-line workers. However, most of these PPE are comprised of plastics that the SARS-CoV-2 virus can survive on for up to 72 hours, which poses a high risk associated with the regular use of PPE. The proposed functional graphene-based nanocomposites can be coated onto the PPE as an antiviral layer to effectively disinfect coronavirus, thereby providing a safer environment for both patients and health care professionals. Consequently, the spread of the virus can be significantly reduced.

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