In April, UK Alumni Professor Dibakar Bhattacharyya ("DB") announced he had the concept and the means to develop a medical face mask that would capture and deactivate the COVID-19 virus on contact.
“We have the capability to create a membrane that would not only effectively filter out the novel coronavirus like the N95 mask does, but deactivate the virus completely,” said DB. “This innovation would further slow and even prevent the virus from spreading. It would also have future applications to protect against a number of human pathogenic viruses.”
Now, DB has received a Rapid Response Research Grant (RAPID) in the amount of $152,454.00 to make such masks reality. DB will serve as the PI and engineering faculty members J. Todd Hastings and Thomas Dziubla, as well as Yinan Wei from the UK Department of Chemistry, will contribute as Co-PIs.
An excerpt from the abstract is below. For more information, see "Battling COVID-19 with Dibakar Bhattacharyya" on our Research page.
"This RAPID project will involve the development of functionalized, open structured and highly breathable membranes with attached enzymes and/or antibodies. This will allow for a significant improvement in the efficacy and safety of the diffusion and impact filtration mechanisms and subsequent deactivation parameters for PPE. This innovative RAPID project will result in the development of new materials which incorporate integration of easily adaptable virus cleavage and recognition materials on existing cellulosic and other membrane polymer films which are easily scalable. The overall project will involve enzyme/antibody attachment on surfaces, and material evaluation using synthetic and plasmonic aerosol nanoparticles functionalized with spike glycoprotein found in corona virus. This novel approach includes means for maintaining hydration for enzyme activity. The plasmonic particles will act as "smart" labels to determine both particle location in the material and enzyme-protein interactions. The integrated research on functionalized membranes, virus particle quantification approaches, and novel virus analogs will advance the state of the art in anti-viral barrier materials while deepening fundamental understanding of virus-enzyme-antibody interactions on surfaces. This RAPID effort will also enhance additional interactions with industries for bringing the application of functionalized membrane and virus recognition technology to the medical field and industrial manufacturing sector where airborne virus or other nanoparticles present a potential health hazard. Students with diversified background will be exposed to multidisciplinary research involving chemical/environmental engineering, biological chemistry, and electrical engineering."