KEY POINTS

  • Scientists developed a textile coating that is durable, washable and great for reuse
  • It could also repel viruses and prevent liquids from sticking to it
  • This coating can withstand ultrasonic washing, scraping and scrubbing

Researchers have come up with a textile coating that has been shown to repel viruses, as well as prevent liquids like saliva and blood from sticking on its surface. The coating is very durable and is also washable. The innovation comes at a time when disposable masks and other personal protective equipment (PPE) are in short supply, necessitating its reuse.

Essential Protection

The coronavirus pandemic gave rise to the demand in facemasks, gowns, and many other types of PPE. Healthcare and emergency workers, as well as other essential personnel, use these PPEs to protect them against infection.

Safe Reuse

When the coronavirus started spreading in the United States, the huge demand for PPEs caused supplies to run out. Even healthcare workers had to either reuse disposable PPEs or resort to some other means. This necessitated the need to find a way to give healthcare workers better protection and, at the same time, provide for the safe reuse of PPEs.

After several months, researchers from the LAMP Lab at the University Of Pittsburgh Swanson School of Engineering say they may have found a solution. Scientists at the lab have developed a textile coating that can repel liquids and prevent viruses from sticking to its surface. Their work was published recently in the journal ACS Applied Materials and Interfaces.

Can Withstand Washing

Anthony Galante, the lead author of the study and a Ph.D. student in industrial engineering at Pitt, said that there is great interest in blood-repellent surfaces recently. They are very much interested in coming up with one that has mechanical durability. “We want to push the boundary on what is possible with these types of surfaces, and especially given the current pandemic, we knew it'd be important to test against viruses,” Galante noted.

What makes this new textile coating unique is that it can withstand scraping, ultrasonic washing, and scrubbing. Other similar coatings that are currently being used do not have such capability. He said that rubbing or washing the surface of textiles used in most PPEs at present can eliminate or reduce its repellent abilities.