Understanding and minimising the risks
NPL carried out a comprehensive review of the current state of knowledge, research direction and practices in the area of antiviral materials and coatings. Whilst anti-bacterial properties had been examined closely in the past, the antiviral properties were less well understood and often quite different. The team reviewed a range of natural and synthetic surface materials and coatings with documented antiviral properties, including metals, polymers and biopolymers, graphene and antimicrobial peptides, as well as reviewing the physico-chemical properties of surfaces which can influence virus attachment. It aimed to understand the mechanisms of antiviral properties at the molecular level and covered the current experiences of using these materials.
The findings provide an overview of the current practices and applications of antiviral materials and coatings in consumer products, personal protective equipment, healthcare and public settings. The work demonstrated the role that material science can play in the development of conceptual and practical measures to slow infectious outbreaks and contribute to the challenge and preparedness of future viral pandemics.
The information will help the materials selection for future applications, including public buildings and transportation. The study was carried out with the National Biofilms Innovation Centre and the review article ‘Antiviral surfaces and surface coatings and their mechanisms of action’ was published in Communications Materials.
3D printing antiviral materials
3D printing typically involves heating a solid material to approximately 200 °C which reduces any antiviral agents that may be present. NPL developed a resin alternative which has the potential to require less cleaning and hence less abrasion, therefore improving the antiviral properties of the material.
Evaluating the performance of antiviral sprays and liquids
Materials used in public spaces are regularly cleaned with antiviral sprays to reduce the COVID-19 risks. NPL worked to understand the impact of using the antiviral chemicals on a range of materials, particularly how often cleaning is required and how it may influence the material itself from the chemical, mechanical and wear perspective.
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