A group of researchers from the Indiana Center for Regenerative Medicine and Engineering at Indiana University has unveiled an electroceutical material that can produce electric field across the surface of the fabric to inactivate or repeal viral particles wirelessly.
Since the world is gearing up for new normal, wearing a mask has become a part of our daily life. With the alarming rise in the number of people getting infected, there isn’t much relief.
Therefore, researchers are working to develop functional clothing that either could inactivate or repeal coronavirus including COVID-19 and other pathogens.
“People can transfer infectious particles to their hands if they touch the front of a mask during use or when they remove gowns or other PPE. I and my colleagues have been developing a way to render those particles and other infectious agents harmless,” says Chandan Sen, Director of the Indiana Center for Regenerative Medicine and Engineering at Indiana University.
The design of the technology is quite simple. The masks made of polyester material are printed with alternate dots of silver and zinc just like small polka dots. The size of these dots is 2 mm wide and is spaced 1 mm apart.
These electroceutical materials are inactive when they are dry. However, if they are activated when dampened with saliva, vapour, cough droplets or other bodily fluids, ions in the liquid will trigger an electrochemical reaction. The silver and zinc generate a weak electric field that kills the pathogen on the surface.
The material was originally developed in 2012 in collaboration with Vomaris, a biotechnology company. Its application was to treat bacterial biofilms in wounds. However, in response to the pandemic the team tested the material for different COVID-19 strains that cause respiratory illness in pigs and on an unrelated type of pathogen called a lentivirus.
The study proved that the electroceutical fabric destabilised both viruses, leaving them unable to infect cells. The researchers plan to submit the results to a peer-reviewed journal as well. However, the effectiveness has not been tested specifically for the SARS-CoV-2 that causes the COVID-19.