Retrofitting stainless steel with a self-sanitizing surface layer

Project: Research project

Project Details


Fomites (i.e., virions contaminated objects) infection is a common mode of transmission for highly infectious respiratory diseases, such as SARS, MERS, and Covid-19. Research has shown that both SARS-Cov-1 and SARS-Cov-2 virus have long viability on smooth surfaces such as stainless steel (SS) for days1,2. This is highly problematic for curbing the virus transmission, as people need to touch SS surfaces (e.g., door knobs, buttons, handrails, table tops, utensils, and many home and medical appliances) so frequently, making it difficult and often impractical to drastically alter human behavior. Current mitigation method is largely based on chemical sanitization through spraying and wiping, which is labor and materials intensive, difficult to cover all exposed areas, needs to be re-applied frequently, and rather unpleasant and even potentially harmful for workers and users. Therefore, antiviral SS surfaces that are self-sanitizing and low-maintenance are highly desirable, and they can contribute significantly in mitigating fomite infection. Some metal cations, such as Cu2+ is a well-known broad-spectrum disinfectant for both bacteria and viruses, including coronaviruses, with low toxicity to human3. However, current methods to introduce Cu-based antiviral coatings often require harsh treatments (e.g., low vacuum, high temperature, or electroplating), which are often incompatible with already installed SS surfaces. Strategies that can generate chemically safe, mechanically robust, long-lasting antiviral coatings that can also readily retrofit existing SS infrastructure would be most ideal. Based on our discoveries and insights of various types of functional coatings, here we propose a solution-based method to convert existing SS surfaces to a Cu-containing oxyhydroxide self-sanitizing layer. If successful, the proposed work here can offer an easy-to-implement technical solution that can retrofit existing SS surfaces with self-sanitizing functions.
Effective start/end date10/1/209/30/22


  • Office of Naval Research (N00014-20-1-2685//P00001)


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