Graphene-based surface coating to prevent fomite transmission of COVID-19
Many viruses, like SARS-CoV-2, are transmitted by respiratory droplets sprayed out when an infected person sneezes, coughs, or talks. These droplets can either land directly on surfaces or be transmitted to surfaces like doorknobs if touched by an infected person. The virus, which often remains infectious for several hours up to three days depending upon the surface, can then spread by fomite transmission if a person touches a contaminated surface and then touches their mouth, eyes or nose. This Alliance collaboration between Dr. Ménard, a material specialist in the department of Physics at uOttawa, and ZEN Graphene Solutions Ltd., an Ontario-based company focusing on the development of graphene-based materials, will focus on developing a coating material that kills viruses on contact and prevent their transmission. The coating harnesses the anti-pathogen properties of nanomaterials, and more particularly graphene, an atomic-thin carbon layer, which is one of the most investigated bidimensional (2D) materials. The anti-pathogen mechanism is based on the atomic-scale edges of graphene that effectively act as nano-razors piercing the cellular membrane and, hence inactivating viruses as well as other types of pathogens such as bacteria and fungi. One of the main project outcomes is to allow scientists to develop consumer and health care products with more effective and reliable pathogen-killing surfaces. When used in hospitals, long-term care centres or other public spaces, these antiviral materials will reduce fomite transmission and slow the rate of infection – thus saving many lives.