Composite Textile that Self-Decontaminates is Created

Researchers at Rice University have developed a material that has the potential to enhance personal protective equipment (PPE) – a composite textile that self-decontaminates, eliminating at least 99.9% of coronaviruses.

The textile-based material employs Joule heating, a process in which the energy from an electric current is transformed into heat, to decontaminate the material’s surface, effectively eliminating coronaviruses such as SARS-CoV-2 and HCoV-OC43 in less than five seconds.

As the electrical current’s energy transforms into heat, the material’s outer surface rapidly reaches temperatures exceeding 100°C (212°F), while the reverse side remains at approximately 36°C (96.8°F), close to body temperature, ensuring the user is not exposed to burns.

Marquise Bell, a graduate student in mechanical engineering at Rice and the lead author of the study, states, “This material allows you to decontaminate in seconds, so you can get back to the task at hand.”

The innovation might one day present an alternative to single-use nitrile gloves, potentially reducing PPE waste as it can be utilised numerous times. The researchers’ future plans involve investigating the fabric’s response to other viruses and bacteria to broaden its applications.

The research findings were published in the journal ACS Applied Materials and Interfaces in September 2023.