The antiviral material, which is made from copper, silver and tungsten, has been created with the aim of using it in face masks and filtration systems to reduce the risk of infection.
Specialist manufacturing scientists from the University of Wolverhampton led the development of the material in partnership with bioengineers from Valencia in Spain.
PhD researcher John Robinson said: “Our antiviral material displayed a 100 per cent viral inactivation within five hours against a biologically-safe sample of Covid-19.
“This is a significant improvement on the previous copper coating results as all of the Covid-19 virus is eliminated.
“As such the copper-tungsten-silver material developed in this study could be utilised to reduce both surface contamination and the airborne spread of the Covid-19 virus.
“We hope that this material could have a number of uses including building filtration systems and face mask filters; for example in this project we used the antiviral material and 3D printing technology to create proof of concept mask filters for an open-source 3D-printed face mask.”
Silver is known to have antimicrobial properties, but is extremely expensive, while copper has been shown to have anti-Covid-19 properties and is far cheaper.
Meanwhile there is also emerging research that tungsten can also help kill viruses, leading the researchers to investigate combining the three elements.
The project team used a form of 3D printing called selective laser melting to make the material – the benefit being that it can rapidly be adapted for different uses, Mr Robinson added.
“Covid-19 virus transmission can be indirect through airborne droplets or direct through contaminated surfaces,” he said.
“Therefore, the ability to control the transmission of the virus is critical to reduce the spread and limit the unknown long-term effects.
“Also, with new variants emerging, and a concern that a vaccine evasive strain may evolve, there is further emphasis on the requirement for enhanced transmission control and prevention. The requirement for long-life masks and mask filters that can be disinfected is essential.
“As the pandemic continues to evolve, various situations are likely to appear unpredictably. To enable an immediate response and rapid solution, we created an antiviral material that could be 3D printed, and therefore can create antiviral surfaces when and where they are needed.”
The interdisciplinary project was led by Mr Robinson, Dr Arun Arjunan and Dr Ahmad Baroutaji from the university’s additive manufacturing functional materials research group.
They partnered with the Ángel Serrano-Aroca’s group from the Catholic University of Valencia’s biomaterials and bioengineering lab for rapid material development and anti-Covid-19 viral analysis.