UCF working on coronavirus-killing masks, gloves

Research happening now at the University of Central Florida could help protect doctors and nurses from Covid-19 by giving their personal protective equipment (PPE) the power to kill the virus.

UCF Engineer Dr. Sudipta Seal, who specializes in nanotechnology, came up with the idea that has now been funded by the National Science Foundation after rapid review.

"We thought of: if we can make kind of a self-cleaning like coating on PPEs,” said Dr. Seal.

University of Central Florida Nano-Engineer Dr. Sudipta Seal (Left) and Virologist Dr. Griffith Parks (Right) - Courtesy UCF

The engineer needed some medical expertise to see if this one was possible, so he brought his theory to colleague an UCF College of Medicine Virologist Dr. Griffith Parks. The duo decided the idea could not only work, but create a coating that would turn PPE into a real virus-killer.

"This coating can capture and neutralize the virus,” said Dr. Seal.

The team plans to create a nanostructure within the coating that would capture the virus and then trigger a chemical reaction using ultraviolet light to destroy it.

Dr. Seal said the coating could really be applied to any surface, but that it would best be used on things like exam gloves, masks, face shields, and protective aprons to destroy any of the virus that medical workers and first responders may come into contact with.

Seal said at this point the team has started ordering supplies to develop the actual technology; once social distancing allows his team to get back into the lab.

From there the university said Dr. Parks will begin testing the technology against ‘a dictionary of viruses’ he has stored at the school’s Medical campus. If it keeps showing promise, the team will then find an independent, Biohazard Safety 3 certified lab to test it against the actual Covid-19.

So it could take some time before the technology goes into actual use, but Dr. Seal said the ultimate goal is to not only use it against Covid-19, but against future viruses, bacteria, and other existing illnesses medical workers come into contact with every day.

"I think we are quite hopeful that this could really work,” said Seal.