According to Dr. Nadim Darwish, the lead researcher from the School of Molecular and Life Sciences at Curtin University, the study found that the spike proteins of coronaviruses attach to and become stuck on specific types of surfaces.
“Coronaviruses have spike proteins on their periphery that allow them to penetrate host cells and cause infection and we have found these proteins becomes stuck to the surface of silicon, gold, and copper through a reaction that forms a strong chemical bond,” Dr. Darwish said.
“We believe these materials can be used to capture coronaviruses by being used in air filters, as a coating for benches, tables, and walls, or in the fabric of wipe cloths and face masks.
“By capturing coronaviruses in these ways we would be preventing them from reaching and infecting more people.”
Co-author Ph.D. candidate Essam Dief, also from the School of Molecular and Life Sciences at Curtin University said the study also found the coronavirus could be detected and destroyed using electrical pulses.
“We discovered that electric current can pass through the spike protein and because of this, the protein can be electrically detected. In the future, this finding can be translated to involve applying solution to a mouth or nose swab and testing it in a tiny electronic device able to electrically detect the proteins of the virus. This would provide instant, more sensitive, and accurate COVID testing,” Mr. Dief said.
“Even more exciting, by applying electrical pulses, we found the spike protein’s structure is changed and at certain magnitude of the pulses, the protein is destroyed. Therefore, electric fields can potentially deactivate coronaviruses.
“So, by incorporating materials such as copper or silicon in air filters, we can potentially capture and consequently stop the spread of the virus. Also importantly, by incorporating electric fields through air filters, for example, we also expect this to deactivate the virus.
“The study is exciting both fundamentally as it enables a better understanding of coronaviruses and from an applied perspective in helping to develop tools to fight the transmission of current and future coronaviruses.”
Reference: “SARS-CoV-2 spike proteins react with Au and Si, are electrically conductive and denature at 3 × 108 V m−1: a surface bonding and a single-protein circuit study” by Essam M. Diefa and Nadim Darwish, 17 February 2023, Chemical Science.
Remember the negative ion generator/filter fad of the 80’s and 90’s? We shouldda kept them.