It’s a fashion statement of sorts. The fabric is repellent but in a good way. And it might just be the next advancement in personal protective equipment, or PPE.
Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh’s Laboratory for Advanced Materials have invented a textile coating that has been shown to stop adenoviruses from being absorbed. Adenoviruses are common viruses that can cause respiratory illness and other ailments, including conjunctivitis.
Scientists at Pitt believe their coating also might work against betacoronaviruses that are less lethal than the novel coronavirus behind COVID-19 that has caused a global pandemic. Testing will show if it is.
Their creation also can repel liquids like blood and saliva, making it ideal for PPE.
The work initially started with the testing of proteins and blood but expanded to viruses, since they have outer layers also composed of proteins.
The coating is applied through a method called drop casting, which saturates material with a syringe and heat treats it.
Scientists wanted to see if treated textiles could be rewashed and reused, again and again. They put the coated material through dozens of ultrasonic washes, scoured it with a scrubbing pad and, in perhaps the ultimate test, scraped it with a razor blade.
The coating withstood the assaults and retained its protective qualities.
Eventually, researchers want to test the actual novel coronavirus. They say having something like this available could help alleviate the shortage of PPE, much of which must be discarded after use.
This work might provide medical professionals the sort of repellent gear that can help them continue to work on the front lines for all of us.