COVID-19: Indoor light-activated, self-cleaning surfaces for continuous decontamination of transparent PPE
The current pandemic has highlighted the importance of personal protective equipment (PPE) for frontline workers to protect both them and the public from transmitting the virus. Most of this PPE is made of clear plastic (face shields, dividers, windows, etc.) which prevent direct person-to-person transmission via aerosolized fluid droplets via coughs, sneezes, etc. However, they do not protect against infection by indirect contact (e.g., touching a contaminated mask with bare hands or gloves then touching your eye). Furthermore, many other surfaces may also act as hotspots for indirect contact transmission. To avoid these indirect exposure routes, researchers at the University of Waterloo in collaboration with Evercloak Inc. propose to develop a transparent coating which can be applied to PPE and other high risk surfaces and is capable of killing SARS-CoV-2 and other microbes. The films act continuously during use when illuminated with ambient, indoor light. While the concept of self-cleaning windows has been widely commercialized, such coatings only work under direct sunlight due to the requirement of UV activation. The coatings developed in this collaboration based on ultra-thin 2D material semiconductors will, instead, operate under indoor light conditions (no UV required) and enable self-cleaning surfaces in an indoor environment such as a hospital or grocery store. Beyond the COVID‑19 crisis, such coatings can also be used to decontaminate other commercial products like touch screens of phones, tablets and kiosks and should significantly reduce the risk of disease transmission.