According to experts, a new long-lasting covering might destroy the COVID virus and other bacteria in minutes.

Date: 2022-08-29
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Scientists in the United States have discovered a long-lasting and safe-to-use coating that has the potential to destroy the COVID-19-causing SARS-CoV-2 virus, E. coli and MRSA bacteria, and a number of other infections in minutes. Researchers at the University of Michigan produced a coating that killed 99.9% of bacteria even after months of frequent washing and abrasion on real-world surfaces like as keyboards, mobile phone displays, and chicken-slathered cutting boards.
According to Anish Tuteja, a professor at the University of Michigan, the coating might be a game changer in historically germ-infested public venues such as airports and hospitals. "Disinfectant cleansers can kill bacteria in a minute or two, but they soon evaporate and leave surfaces prone to reinfection," said Tuteja, a co-corresponding author of the study published in the journal Matter.

"We do have long-lasting antibacterial surfaces based on metals like copper and zinc, but they destroy germs over time." "This coating combines the best of both worlds," he said. The transparent coating, which may be brushed or sprayed on, contains antibacterial compounds derived from tea tree oil and cinnamon oil, both of which have been used for centuries as safe and effective disinfectants.
The researchers claimed to have developed powerful germ killers that operate in just two minutes. Polyurethane, a durable, varnish-like sealant often used on surfaces such as floors and furniture, is responsible for the coating's endurance, according to the researchers. "The FDA classifies the antimicrobials we tested as 'generally considered as safe,' and several have even been approved as food additives," Tuteja explained. "Polyurethane is a safe and widely used coating." But, just to be sure, we conducted toxicity testing and discovered that our specific mix of chemicals is even safer than many of today's antimicrobials," he said.
According to the findings of the study's durability tests, the coating might destroy germs for six months or more until its oil evaporates, reducing its disinfection efficacy. Even so, Tuteja claims it may be recharged by wiping it with fresh oil, which is reabsorbed by the surface and restarts the cycle. Tuteja believes the technology will be commercially accessible in a year. It was licenced to Hygratek, a spinoff business created by Tuteja with help from the University of Michigan Innovation Partnerships.
The main issue in creating the covering was combining the oil and polyurethane in such a manner that the oil molecules could accomplish their germ-killing activity while not evaporating fast. The team, which included associate professor Geeta Mehta and PhD students Abhishek Dhyani and Taylor Repetto in materials science and engineering, discovered a possible answer in cross-linking, a well-known method that employs heating to join materials together at the molecular level.

According to the researchers, the smaller oil molecules easily interacted with the cross-linking polymer molecules, establishing a stable matrix. To kill bacteria, however, the oil molecules must enter their cell walls, which they cannot accomplish since they are strongly attached to the matrix. They eventually reached a happy medium by partly cross-linking the components —enough to leave certain molecules free to accomplish their task while keeping others closely bonded to the polyurethane

"There was some trial and error," Tuteja explained, "but we soon discovered that cross-linking only portion of the oil achieved what we required." "The free oil prefers to stay with the oil that's cross-linked into the matrix, extending the life of the coating," he explained. Once the fundamental recipe was established, the researchers went about identifying a mixture of active substances capable of killing a wide range of the bacteria that cause the greatest problems for people. The scientists discovered a perfect balance of antimicrobial compounds that were efficient, safe, and affordable in order to identify a representative sample of bacteria.

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