As the wearing of face masks has become ubiquitous in public places, people end up reusing these devices as they go from place to place. Pathogens get deposited on the exterior of the masks and within the fabric. Considering that many pathogens, including that which causes COVID-19, can reside on surfaces for a long time, the masks themselves may be a way for diseases to spread.
Researchers at Indiana University believe that electricity can be used to deactivate pathogens on face masks and they recently showed that an “electroceutical” fabric kills coronavirus particles on contact and may be highly useful to help guarantee the safety of face masks and potentially make them properly reusable.
The material, already commercialized by Vomaris, an Arizona firm and FDA cleared for the treatment of wounds, consists of an array of tiny batteries that work together to generate an electric field across a fabric. When moisture is present, a current is evoked within it and any pathogens within the moisture are affected.
The technology, called V.Dox, seems to be particularly suited for coronaviruses because they use electrostatics to bind to a host and to take on an infective form. Sending a current through where the viral particles are attached may be disrupting these processes.
In their laboratory tests, the Indiana team were able to kill coronaviruses within a minute of activating the V.Dox fabric. Since it’s already being safely used as an antimicrobial electroceutical for the treatment of serious wounds, it may soon be green lit by the FDA for other applications.
“This work presents the first evidence demonstrating that the physical characteristic features of coronaviruses may be exploited to render them non-infective following contact with low-level electric field-generating electroceutical fabric,” said Chandan Sen, principal author of the study which has been preprinted in ChemRxiv.
Here’s a video from University of Indiana with more about this exciting research:
Study preprint in ChemRxiv: Electroceutical Fabric Lowers Zeta Potential and Eradicates Coronavirus Infectivity upon Contact
Via: Indiana University