RESEARCHERS at Northumbria University, Newcastle, have developed an antiviral coating which can be used on high-contact surfaces such as handrails on public transport, hospital trolleys or shop till-points to reduce the spread of coronavirus.
The project backed by the UK government’s defence and security accelerator (DASA) could form part of the country’s biodefence that could help bring down the Covid-19 ‘R’ rate, a statement said.
Academics are working to create a unique ‘superhydrophobic’ – low friction – coating that enables surfaces to be functionalised in a way that destroys viruses whilst maintaining robust and easy-to-clean properties.
This novel coating aims to provide a solution to the drawbacks of current formulas such as release undesirable chemical compounds into the environment.
Dr Matt Unthank, project lead and associate professor in Polymer Chemistry, said: “Having the ability and insight to design multifunctional coating systems that can create long lasting defence against viruses, whilst also being compatible with everyday life, is challenging yet important.
“It’s not just about destroying viruses in the laboratory. New coating systems and surface treatments need to be robustness, easy to clean, universal in their application, safe and low cost. Our research seeks to explore these interdependencies and to develop new antiviral coating systems for the current and future pandemics.”
Ian Shortman, technical partner and senior scientist at Defence Science and Technology Laboratory, said: “This work aims to develop transparent coatings which are both biocidal and water repellent. The approaches being adopted could provide a wide range of benefits, and be easily applied to a range of surfaces such as textiles and plastics.”
Dr Unthank and his team are focussing on developing new multifunctional contact biocidal and virucidal coatings, which are safe, do not release chemicals to the environment and are user friendly and is universal in their application, the statement added.