A team at the University of Hong Kong has developed the first anti-pathogen stainless steel that kills infectious viruses, including COVID-19, on its surface.
The high copper content of the new metal means that it “exhibits significant antiviral properties,” according to the researchers.
The new metal can reduce 99.75% of viable COVID-19 on its surface within three hours, and 99.99% within six hours, with no trace of the virus present after 24 hours, the scientists found.
The metal also kills the H1N1 influenza A virus — the virus strain behind swine flu — and E. coli bacteria.
The team launched the project as a response to evidence that large virus-laden droplets and direct or indirect contact with touching surfaces contaminated by respiratory secretions can be critical paths for COVID-19 to be transmitted from person to person, posing a high risk of virus transmission via surface touching in public areas.
Stainless steel is used extensively in public areas such as hospitals, schools, and public transport for surfaces that are frequently touched, such as lift buttons, doorknobs, and handrails, because of its excellent mechanical properties, corrosion resistance, and workability.
The scientists discovered that pure copper exhibits an excellent antiviral efficiency towards COVID-19 and otanti-pathogen stainless steel her viruses. But, replacing stainless steel products with pure copper in public areas is impractical due to its high cost, low strength, and lower corrosion-resistant capability.