Doorknobs, light switches, shopping carts. Fear runs rampant nowadays when it comes to touching common surfaces because of the rapid spread of the coronavirus. A Virginia Tech professor has found a solution. He developed a surface coating that when painted on common objects, inactivates SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.

“The idea is when the droplets land on a solid object, the virus within the droplets will be inactivated,” explained Chemical Engineering Professor William Ducker, who has been working with Leo Poon, a professor and researcher at the University of Hong Kong’s School of Public Health, to test the film’s success at inactivating the virus.

The results of the tests have been outstanding, Ducker said. When the coating is painted on glass or stainless steel, the amount of virus is reduced by 99.9 percent in one hour, compared to the uncoated sample. “One hour is the shortest period that we have tested so far, and tests at shorter periods are ongoing.”

His expectation is that his team can inactivate the virus in minutes. Results have shown that the coating is robust. It doesn’t peel off after being slashed with a razor blade. It also retains its ability to inactivate the virus after multiple rounds of being exposed to the SARS-CoV-2 virus followed by disinfection or after being submerged in water for a week.

If the project’s success continues, it’s a significant discovery in fighting the virus’ spread.

“Everybody is worried about touching objects that may have the coronavirus,” said Ducker. “It would help people to relax a little bit.”

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