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New transparent material can effectively catch respiratory droplets from the air




Plexiglas barriers appear to be everywhere these days, between grocery lanes, around restaurant tables, and above office cubes, but an incomplete solution to stop the virus infection. It is a measure.

Instead of catching the virus-laden respiratory droplets and aerosols, the Plexiglas partition simply diverts the droplets, causing them to bounce off, but remains in the air. To enhance the function of these protective barriers, researchers at Northwestern University have developed a new transparent material that can capture droplets and aerosols and effectively remove them from the air.

The material is a clear, viscous liquid that can be applied to any surface, including plastic, glass, wood, metal, stainless steel, concrete and fiber. When a droplet hits a coated surface, it attaches to it, is absorbed and dries. The coating is also compatible with antiviral and antibacterial materials, so disinfectants such as copper can be added to the formulation.

Droplets always collide with indoor surfaces. Currently, the Plexiglas partition is a deviant device. They divert the droplets. If the surface can actually trap the droplets, all droplets effectively removed from the room air will succeed in eliminating potential sources of infection. “

Jiaxing Huang, Chief Researcher, Northwestern University

The study will be published in the journal on Wednesday (June 16th) Chemistry.. In the study, researchers found that even when aerosol droplets collided with a surface (at orders of magnitude higher than typical in indoor environments), the coated surface was three times as high as the uncoated surface. We discovered that we had captured aerosol droplets.

Huang is a professor of materials science and engineering at the McCormick Institute of Engineering at Northwestern University. Zhilong Yu, Murak Kadir, and Yihan Liu (all members of Huang’s lab) co-authored this treatise. The team embarked on this project during a stay-at-home order at the beginning of the pandemic.

The main component of Northwestern Team’s materials is polymer electrolyte polymers commonly used in a variety of cosmetics. With blades or brushes, the resulting formulation provides a uniform, conformal coating on a wide range of indoor surfaces without damaging or discoloring the original material.

Huang’s team found that the surface remained clear and haze-free, even when water droplets adhered to it. In other words, the surface did not get dirty or dirty after being exposed to water droplets. When used with plexiglass barriers, these coated barriers do not need to be cleaned more often than uncoated barriers.

Most infections spread through respiratory droplets and aerosols. These are constantly released when humans speak, laugh, sing, and exhale. Due to the versatility of the coating, Huang believes that it can be used on non-contact or low-contact surfaces such as walls and curtains as well as plexiglass barriers and face shields to remove these droplets from the air. I am.

“There are vast areas of indoor surfaces that are barely touched by humans and pets. Reusing these” idling “surfaces to capture respiratory droplets is a functional” device that helps reduce the aerial transmission of infections. There is a possibility of becoming. “He said. “The pathogens captured on the surface are then easily inactivated over time and accelerated by pre-applied disinfectants, which can also be removed during regular cleaning.”

Huang states that face masks are an irreplaceable public health tool that helps prevent the spread of infectious droplets, but trapping droplets on the surface could be another effective tool. He believes there is.

“For example, in computer games, I don’t want to step into a battlefield with only one armor,” he said. “It makes sense to leverage multiple layers of defense.”


Journal reference:

Yu, Z. , et al.. (2021) Droplet capture coating on environmental surfaces based on cosmetic ingredients. Chemistry..


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