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By A.J. Roan
For Metal Tech News 

Graphene goes into COVID-19 killing ink

Companies developing virucidal ink for masks and other PPE Metal Tech News Weekly Edition – May 6, 2020

Series: COVID-19 | Story 12

Last updated 6/27/2020 at 5:56am

Graphene medical uses antiviral virucidal ink masks protective equipment

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Graphene, a hexagonal lattice of carbon that is one atom thick, is the thinnest, strongest, and most conductive material known to man. It also has virucidal and antimicrobial properties that can be used in inks, paints, and coatings to protect against the spread of COVID-19 and other diseases.

Zen Graphene Solutions is collaborating with Graphene Composites Ltd. to develop a COVID-19 killing virucidal graphene-based composite ink that can be applied to fabrics, including N95 face masks and other personal protective equipment.

Graphene Composites, a United Kingdom-based company with offices in the U.S, specializes in the technology of nanomaterials.

Focusing on the usage of graphene and other distinctive materials, such as aerogels, they produce a range of products currently in the areas of armor, aerospace and renewable energy.

Out of Ontario, Canada, Zen Graphene is a technology company that focuses on the development of graphene-based nanomaterial products and applications as well as graphene manufacturing.

Zen is in an ideal position to provide for this cooperative endeavor with graphite sourced from their Albany project, which offers a rare, igneous-related deposit of graphite. This Albany graphite is readily converted to graphene, a form of carbon similar to graphite that is made up of a single layer of atoms.

Several weeks ago, Graphene Composites CEO Sandy Chen made headlines with the announcement of a virucidal graphene-based composite ink that could be used to make masks that offer extra protection against COVID-19.

Unlike antiviral materials, which prevents a virus from replicating, virucidal materials kill the virus.

"First we want to make sure we can make the stuff – and that it kills the virus," said Chen. "If we have this, the obvious thing to do is to put into face masks, particularly for people on the front lines. Right now, the masks that they're wearing are good at trapping the virus, but it doesn't kill it. If we can kill the virus on the masks – we can make a big difference in terms of limiting the spread."

Earlier this year, Chen had put out an appeal for companies to cooperate in developing their graphene ink, stressing the importance of its manufacturing above all else.

"Frankly, I don't care about who gets the patent, or any of the commercial aspects of this - I think we should all just care about working together to beat this virus," he said.

Logistics are currently being worked out and efficacy testing of the silver-graphene oxide-based ink to kill the COVID-19 virus will be conducted in a biosafety level three lab at Western University's ImPaKT facility in Ontario.

Once testing is completed, the ink developed by Graphene Composites and Zen would be incorporated into a fabric for masks and filters.

In addition, the graphene ink will be tested to kill influenza A and B viruses at biosafety level two labs in the UK and US.

"We have done in the past three weeks more R&D than is normally done in an entire year," said Chen. "In the next two weeks, we should have the first trial batches of coronavirus-killing (material) that we can test."

Zen is excited to be working with Graphene Composite on this new innovative technology that could contribute to combating the COVID-19 virus.

"The development of this potential COVID-19 virucidal graphene ink is coming at a crucial time to provide effective PPE supplies for the safety of frontline workers and hospital staff," said Zen Graphene Solutions CEO Francis Dubé. "The current N95 masks trap the virus but don't kill it. Our testing will demonstrate if the graphene ink is an effective virucide which would kill the virus as this could make a big difference to people's safety."

Graphene medical uses antiviral virucidal ink masks protective equipment

Graphene-based ink shows promise in making personal protective equipment more protective.

Regarding this cooperation Chen had this to say, "Combining the deep nanomaterials expertise of GC and ZEN with a truly collaborative approach has enabled us to do a year's worth of R&D in a matter of weeks. Quickly developing and deploying our virucidal-germicidal ink would make a significant difference in slowing the rate of infection – thus saving many lives."

Under the collaboration, Zen has synthesized a silver nanoparticle functionalized graphene oxide ink at their lab in Ontario that has been documented by previous researchers to kill earlier versions of coronavirus.

As a standard N95 mask protects its wearer by containing the virus and not killing it, this virucidal ink may be the answer to present and future protective precautions when handling and combating highly contagious outbreaks.


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