Antiviral polymers as surface coating materials for curbing the spread of COVID-19
The COVID‑19 pandemic has brought enormous human and economic costs. Limiting its transmission rate within the population is the most critical task in its control, as reducing the total number of infections at any given time can prevent the healthcare system from being overburdened. Although the coronavirus is airborne, it can survive on certain types of common surfaces for days, leading to a significant risk of surface transmission. Our goal is to develop a technology of coating materials surfaces with antiviral polymers, which quickly inactivates viruses after contact. This coating can be applied to furniture, flooring, and other general surfaces in public spaces to reduce the risk of contamination and transmission. It will also enable the development of a new generation of personal protective equipment (PPE) with built-in antiviral properties. The proposed work targets a central challenge in the formulation design of this technology. It will combine computer simulation with experiments to understand, at the molecular level, how certain types of polymers dismantle coronavirus particles. Meanwhile, consideration will also be given to evaluate their suitability for coating on substrate surfaces in terms of interfacial and mechanical properties. The direct outcome of this project will be a clear set of molecular guidelines on the ideal polymer chemical structure for such an application, which is essential for our continued formulation development of this coating material.