Synchronized impulsive stimulated Raman scattering to inactivate SARS-CoV-2 for slowing and stopping the transmission of COVID-19

Ozaki, Tsuneyuki | $50,000

Quebec INRS 2020 NSERC Alliance COVID-19 Grant

The ongoing COVID‑19 pandemic reminds us of the importance of novel medical equipment that could be quickly deployed to inactivate emergent viruses. Such equipment must be able to respond rapidly to new viral diseases when they become apparent, and they should also be intrinsically safe to humans. Up to now, our group has been studying the inactivation of viruses using single, energetic infrared and visible femtosecond laser pulses to induce impulsive stimulated Raman scattering (ISRS), thereby exciting vibrations of the virus capsid. If this vibration is large enough, it breaks the bond in the capsid, thus inactivating the virus itself. However, energetic femtosecond lasers are expensive, and the high cost of such equipment and its large footprint would limit their accessibility.

In the proposed project, we hypothesize that large-amplitude vibrations in the virus capsid could also be excited by irradiating a train of ultrashort pulses with picosecond pulse-to-pulse timings that are synchronous with the vibrational period of the capsid (synchronized ISRS). The peak power of such lasers could be several orders of magnitude lower than that currently used by our group, thus significantly reducing their cost. Therefore, the experimental focus of this proposal is (i) to acquire data on the inactivation of SARS-CoV-2 using synchronized ISRS, and (ii) to design equipment that inactivates SARS-CoV-2 based on the data. We will collaborate with few-cycles Inc. (Varennes, QC), a company with significant expertise in ultrashort UV lasers, who are actively seeking to find solutions to slow and stop COVID-19.

The outcomes of the proposed research would be safe and relatively inexpensive equipment to inactivate SARS-CoV-2. This equipment could be used to disinfect medical equipment (such as N95 masks) without the use of harmful chemicals or damaging radiation (UVC sterilization has been shown to degrade the integrity of masks). It could also be deployed to critical locations (such as in hospitals, clinics, long-term care facilities) to contain virus transmission.

With funding from the Government of Canada

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