Door handles, switches, shopping carts … During the COVID-19 pandemic, fear settled in people when it comes to touching public surfaces due to the rapid spread of coronavirus. A chemical engineering professor at Virginia Tech has developed a surface coating that, when applied to common objects, inactivates SARS-CoV-2. The study publishes ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces, a scientific journal for chemists, engineers, biologists, and physicists.

Since mid-March, William Ducker, a professor of chemical engineering at the Virginia Polytechnic University, has developed a surface coating that, when applied to common objects, inactivates SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.

The scientist’s idea is that when drops fall on a solid object, the virus inside the drops will be inactivated.

Since mid-April, Ducker has been working with Leo Poon, a professor, and researcher at the University of Hong Kong Public Health School, to test the success of the special film in virus inactivation.

Test results were outstanding, Ducker said. When a coating appears on glass or stainless steel, the amount of virus is reduced by 99.9% in just one hour compared to an uncoated sample.

The scientist expects that in the future his team will be able to inactivate the virus in a matter of minutes. The results showed that the new coating is durable. It also retains its ability to inactivate the virus after several cycles of exposure to the SARS-CoV-2 virus, even after immersion in water for a week, according to test results.

If the success of the project continues, it will mean a significant discovery in the fight against the spread of the virus.

Everyone is worried about touching objects that might be infected. This will help people relax a bit.

William Ducker, Professor of Chemical Engineering, Virginia Tech

Ducker’s research has already focused on creating a film that kills bacteria. When the COVID-19 virus began to spread in the United States several months ago, Ducker asked himself: “Why not create a coating that can destroy the virus, not bacteria?”

The Polytechnic University of Virginia (Virginia Tech) granted the necessary staffing status to Ducker and his team so that they could get into the campus labs for the production and testing of coverage. For the duration of the experiments, almost the entire campus was closed.

Then he needed to find a person who could test the effectiveness of the coating. Through an Internet search, Ducker found Pune, who is known for his work on the study of SARs-CoV-1, the virus that caused the outbreak of SARS in 2003 and 2004. Poon actively participated in the fight against SARS-CoV-2.

To test Leo Pune, a team of researchers from Virginia applied three types of coatings to glass and stainless steel. Then they sent samples to a colleague from Hong Kong University.

Now, scientists are hoping to attract funding for mass production of coatings.

Of course, the film does not replace other safety measures that people must take to stop the spread of coronavirus – such as hand washing, physical distance, and wearing a mask.

However, people will not need to worry so much about touching objects, the scientist explained. He hopes this will reduce people’s fear.