Skip to Main Content

Strategic Business Insights (SBI) logo

Nanomaterials July 2020 Viewpoints

Technology Analyst: Madeeha Uppal

Pathogen-Resistant Coatings

Why is this topic significant?

Companies step up the development of pathogen-resistant coatings and products amid the covid-19 pandemic to prevent the spread of the coronavirus and other viruses.

Description

Several nanotechnology companies have accelerated manufacture of their antimicrobial products during the coronavirus-disease-2019 (covid-19) pandemic. Earlier in 2020, England-based Invisi Smart Technologies (formerly MVX Prime) released in the United Kingdom its patented spray—Invisi Smart Shield—that can kill pathogens for use in hospitals and dental practices. Whereas many antipathogen sprays kill pathogens by destroying the cell wall or membrane, Invisi Smart Shield renders bacteria, fungi, and viruses inactive by destroying their ability to spread from the surface to a host cell. The company claims that a $3,000 treatment can sanitize a 100-square-meter surface for up to five years. Invisi Smart Shield can sanitize hard surfaces such as door handles, electronic digital devices, and soft surfaces (except skin) such as textiles. In fact, the Invisi Smart Mask, a surgical mask with self-cleaning properties, has a coating of a 1-to-2-micrometer-thin layer of Invisi Smart Shield. Another nanotechnology company in Israel—Sonovia—is also developing antiviral masks. The washable masks by Sonovia comprise two layers of zinc-oxide nanoparticles, which can provide antiviral activity for up to a year or 100 wash cycles. Dias Corporation is also using its patented nanostructured polymer technology, Aqualyte, to produce pathogen-resistant products, including sprays to sanitize gloves, masks, and other surfaces.

Implications

The current pandemic highlights, among other topics, the importance of keeping frequently touched surfaces continuously sanitized to prevent the spread of infection. Typically, in hospitals, staff sanitize surfaces several times a day, and over a long period, the costs of chemicals, equipment, and labor are likely to be significant. The use of a coating that prevents the spread of pathogens for up to five years after one treatment could become commonplace in hospitals and health-care facilities. Sprays and coatings that decontaminate surfaces for long periods could also keep surfaces in public-transport hotspots, offices, airports, cruise ships, and schools sterile. Polymer coatings such as the one developed by Dias Corporation could also see use in composite membranes for pathogen-resistant respiratory equipment and specialized clothing for hospital workers who come in regular contact with contagious patients.

Impacts/Disruptions

Research for the development of an effective vaccine for covid-19 is ongoing. However, viruses are prone to mutation, and with time, several strains of a virus can evolve. Previously effective vaccines may be ineffective against newer virus strains. Slowing down the occurrence of this mutation will likely make new pathogen-resistant materials clinically successful. Antiviral masks and personal protective equipment as well as pathogen-resistant coatings for surfaces provide an important defense against bacteria and viruses.

Scale of Impact

  • Low
  • Medium
  • High
The scale of impact for this topic is: Medium

Time of Impact

  • Now
  • 5 Years
  • 10 Years
  • 15 Years
The time of impact for this topic is: Now to 5 Years

Opportunities in the following industry areas:

Health care, sanitation, medical devices

Relevant to the following Explorer Technology Areas:

Nanomaterials Developments in Energy Storage

Why is this topic significant?

The superior properties of nanoparticles make them attractive candidates for next-generation energy-storage devices.

Energy storage can come in a variety of forms, from the most advanced electrochemical battery cell to a simple thermos to store heat for later use. Nanomaterials can play a role in improving the capabilities of a wide variety of energy-storage technologies, including batteries, ultracapacitors, and hydrogen storage. These technologies lend themselves to a variety of applications across numerous industries and markets.

In recent years, a growing number of developments demonstrate clearly the continued interest in the use of various nanomaterials and nanotechnology in advancing battery and capacitor technologies. Advances in electrode materials are important if battery technology is to remain competitive with emerging technologies—such as micro fuel cells—for use in portable-electronics products and other applications. Recent developments include the following examples.

  • A novel metallic nanomesh—developed by Imec—that exhibits high porosity and surface-area-to-volume ratio. The nanomesh can function as a highly efficient electrode in fast-charging batteries and fuel cells. Imec claims that the nanomaterial has doubled the energy density of a solid-state lithium-metal battery. The new battery exhibits an energy density of 400 watt-hours per liter and a charging speed of two hours—a record combination for solid-state batteries. Imec also began upscaling the technology in a 300-square-meter assembly pilot line.
  • Silicon-nanoparticle-and-graphene aerogel anodes with changeable silicon-nanoparticle size developed by the University of Alberta for use in lithium-ion batteries. The 3-nanometer silicon nanoparticles exhibited the best long-term stability over 500 charge/discharge cycles. The scientists are now working on reducing synthesis costs of silicon nanoparticles.
  • A novel electrode created by engineers at Purdue University for use in lithium-ion batteries. The electrode comprises antimony nanochains with empty pores that limit the expansion of the electrode as it absorbs lithium ions. Electrodes that expand in size under charge can pose a safety hazard, and giving the electrode a nanostructure that can absorb high concentrations of ions without expanding can enable safer and more efficient batteries than current ones enable. The antimony-nanochains electrode can also speed up the charging time of batteries.
  • An ink-based MXene with high surface area, advanced mechanical properties, and excellent electrical conductivity developed by scientists at the Research Centre for Advanced Materials and Bioengineering at Trinity College, Dublin. The material can enable batteries that are smaller than currently available ones and significantly extend battery capacity. As a result, the material can not only expand the lifetime of batteries in electronic devices such as smart phones but also potentially increase the range of electric vehicles.
  • A metal–organic-frameworks composite that scientists at Yangzhou University used in an alkaline electrochemical capacitor. The device showed high specific capacitance and excellent stability over 5,000 cycles. Furthermore, the device is flexible, and its easy fabrication makes it an attractive candidate for further studies.

Scale of Impact

  • Low
  • Medium
  • High
The scale of impact for this topic is: Medium

Time of Impact

  • Now
  • 5 Years
  • 10 Years
  • 15 Years
The time of impact for this topic is: 5 Years

Opportunities in the following industry areas:

Energy storage, batteries, transportation, electronics, electric vehicles

Relevant to the following Explorer Technology Areas: