A plastic film that can kill viruses using room lighting

Journal of Photochemistry and Photobiology B: Biology (2022). DOI: 10.116/j.jphotobiol.2022.112551″ width=”800″ height=”301″/>

Graphic abstract. Credit: Journal of Photochemistry and Photobiology B: Biology (2022). DOI: 10.116/j.jphotobiol.2022.112551

Researchers at Queen’s University Belfast have developed a plastic film that can kill viruses that land on the surface with ambient light. The self-sterilizing film is the first of its kind: it is cheap to produce, can be easily scaled and can be used for disposable aprons, tablecloths and curtains in hospitals. It is covered with a thin layer of particles that absorb UV light and produce reactive oxygen species – ROS. These kill viruses, including SARS-CoV-2.

The technology used to make the film also ensures that it is biodegradable, unlike the current disposable plastic films it would replace, which is much more environmentally friendly. The breakthrough could lead to a significant reduction in virus transmission in healthcare settings, as well as in other environments where plastic film is used, such as food production plants.

The Queen’s researchers tested the film for antiviral activity using four different viruses — two strains of influenza A virus, a highly stable picornavirus called EMCV and SARS-CoV-2 — exposing them to UVA radiation or with light from a cool white light fluorescent lamp.

They found that the film effectively kills all viruses, even in a room lit only with white fluorescent tubes.

The research, published in the Journal of Photochemistry and Photobiology B: Biologywas conducted by Professor Andrew Mills, Dr. Ri Han and Dr. Christopher O’Rourke in the School of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering at Queen’s University Belfast and Dr. Connor Bamford and Dr. Jonathon D. Coey at the Wellcome-Wolfson Institute for Experimental Medicine in the School of Medicine, Dentistry and Biomedical Sciences at Queen’s.

Professor Andrew Mills comments: “This film could replace many of the disposable plastic films used in healthcare as it has the added value of being self-sterilizing at no real additional cost. Through rigorous testing, we have found it to be effective in killing viruses with room light only – this is the first time something like this has been developed and we hope it will be a huge benefit to society.”

dr. Connor Bamford says: “Pathogenic viruses such as SARS-CoV-2 and influenza will remain a global problem for years to come. In developing self-sterilizing thin plastic films, we have developed a low-cost technology that has a significant impact on the transmission of such affected viruses in a healthcare environment and other sectors where they are used.”

EPSRC Director for Cross Council Programs, Dr. Kedar Pandya, says: “This is a hugely exciting development that has the potential to dramatically reduce virus transmission in a wide range of environments while being environmentally sustainable.

“It is an excellent example of adventurous, innovative research that has the potential to improve the lives of millions of people.”


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More information:
Ri Han et al, Flexible, disposable photocatalytic plastic films for the destruction of viruses, Journal of Photochemistry and Photobiology B: Biology (2022). DOI: 10.116/j.jphotobiol.2022.112551

Provided by Queen’s University Belfast

Quote: A plastic film that can kill viruses using room lighting (2022, September 9,), retrieved September 9, 2022 from https://phys.org/news/2022-09-plastic-viruses-room.html

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