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COVID-19: How a new disinfectant could last for days

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COVID-19 has made us all painfully aware of how many surfaces we touch a day, but when was the last time you read the label on a commercial cleaning product or let a surface you wiped down dry completely?

To be 99.9 percent effective, these products must be used correctly and frequently.

But what if there was a better way? Scientists are working on the next big breakthrough in disinfectant materials.

“I went to a local grocery store, and I watched an employee in due diligence spray disinfectant on a surface and immediately wipe it off. So, my initial reaction was, ‘Oh, my goodness. That surface didn’t get disinfected,’” said Christina Drake, owner and manager of Kismet Technologies.

Scientists say most wipes or sprays take anywhere from four to 10 minutes to disinfect a surface.

“Things like ethanol or some of the other things that will destroy the virus probably don’t last long on a surface,” explained Griffith Parks, a virologist at UCF College of Medicine.

Meaning that surfaces need to be wiped down again and again to stay clean from a number of viruses including COVID-19.

“Driving home I was like, you know, there’s got to be a better solution than what’s currently available,” Drake said.

That’s why scientist Drake is creating a long-lasting, disinfectant spray that could act in under 30 seconds and last for hours, or even days, using cerium oxide nanoparticles.

To develop this virus vanquisher, Drake’s team is first suspending the nanoparticles in a liquid so that it can be sprayed. Ensuring that once it’s sprayed, a film develops on the surface and will continually regenerate.

And then finally, testing it against multiple viruses and verifying that it is safe.

“This would be a huge leap in disinfection,” said Sudipta Seal, a materials science engineer at the University of Central Florida.

Drake formed a private company, Kismet Technologies, to further develop and market the new disinfectant, working alongside Seal, who specializes in cerium oxide nanoparticles. Cerium oxide nanoparticles have previously been used in a wide range of therapies from healing diabetic wounds to reducing damage from radiation.