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Copper Coating on 3D-Printed Plastic Filters Proposed as a Pandemic Fighter
Friday, September 18, 2020

INDIANAPOLIS - In the ongoing fight against COVID-19, experts on microbiology and copper are recommending an expanded use of the metal to reduce the virus's spread.

Jing Zhang of the School of Engineering and Technology at IUPUI and a team of researchers are using a copper coating on 3D-printed plastic filters to create more-efficient masks and respirators.

In the prototype, a ring with V-shape "fins," was designed to increase the surface area where air passes through more channels. Two approaches to creating that are using a green-laser metal 3D printer to directly reproduce the complex copper structure or, in an even more economical way to create the design, 3D-printing a plastic structure followed by electroplating.

Collaborator Jingzhi Pu, from the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology in the School of Science at IUPUI, is continuing to look at how copper ions deactivate the function of the virus using molecular dynamics simulations. Fellow collaborator Ryan Ford Relich, director of clinical microbiology and serology at Eskenazi Health, is helping in laboratory tests that will hopefully lead to a working prototype by October. Graduate students in Zhang's group, Xuehui Yang and Tejesh Dube, are also assisting on the project.

In a statement, Zhang said, "I think this can be used on a daily basis while also being applied to other systems, such as air vent filters in buildings and airplanes, that require long-term use. Copper is reusable and easy to clean, very affordable, and environmentally friendly.”

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