from the really-cleaning-up dept.
A Northwestern University research team has developed a versatile composite fabric that can deactivate both biological threats, such as the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19, and chemical threats, such as those used in chemical warfare. A material that is effective against both classes of threats is rare.
The material also is reusable. It can be restored to its original state after the fabric has been exposed to threats by a simple bleach treatment.The promising fabric could be used in face masks and other protective clothing.
"Having a bifunctional material that has the ability to deactivate both chemical and biological toxic agents is crucial since the complexity to integrate multiple materials to do the job is high," said Northwestern's Omar Farha, an expert in metal-organic frameworks, or MOFs[*], which is the basis for the technology.
[...] The MOF/fiber composite builds on an earlier study in which Farha's team created a nanomaterial that deactivates toxic nerve agents. With some small manipulations, the researchers were able to also incorporate antiviral and antibacterial agents into the material.
MOFs are "sophisticated bath sponges," Farha said. The nano-sized materials are designed with a lot of holes that can capture gases, vapors and other agents the way a sponge captures water. In the new composite fabric, the cavities of the MOFs have catalysts that can deactivate toxic chemicals, viruses and bacteria. The porous nanomaterial can be easily coated on textile fibers.
[*] MOF: Wikipedia
Yuk Ha Cheung, Kaikai Ma, Hans C. van Leeuwen, et al. Immobilized Regenerable Active Chlorine within a Zirconium-Based MOF Textile Composite to Eliminate Biological and Chemical Threats, Journal of the American Chemical Society (DOI: 10.1021/jacs.1c08576)