Materials scientists around the world have been hard at work designing and developing materials with antiviral properties in an effort to play their part to stop the spread of SARS-CoV-2. Japanese researchers from Tokyo Institute of Technology, Kanagawa Institute of Industrial Science and Technology, and Nara Medical University now report their achievements in a new study published in the journal Material Letters.
The team, led by Akira Nakajima of Tokyo Institute of Technology's Department of Materials Science and Engineering, says that they have developed a material called cerium molybdate (γ-Ce2Mo3O13 or CMO), which they have demonstrated has high antiviral activity against coronavirus. Unlike many other inorganic antimicrobial agents that are made with metals and photocatalysts, CMO is not prone to corrosion and does not require light.
The material is composed of the rare earth element cerium (Ce) with the antibacterial agent molybdenum (Mo). The results of the pairing are two kinds of cerium molybdate as a powder, one of which proved to be particularly apt at killing SARS-CoV-2.
Guided by previous findings from past investigations, Nakajima’s team used the polymerizable complex method combined with hydrothermal processing to produce CMO powder samples with an almost single-crystal phase. This process required many attempts and much patience.
The researchers say that the potential applications for CMO are vast. The powder could be applied as coatings for high-contact surfaces like cell phones, door handles, faucets, elevator buttons, walls, windows, and maybe even clothing. Nakajima says he and his team are proud and hopeful of the role that their development could play in the fight against COVID-19.