QUT awarded grant for COVID-19 surface research

First published 18 February 2021

Leading researchers from QUT and Metro North Hospital and Health Service have been awarded more than $500,000 from the Australia-India Strategic Research Fund to assist with their work into virus reduction from surfaces.

The grant, which will fund research into ways of killing viruses such as COVID-19 on surfaces with a wet-etching technique, was awarded to QUT’s Professor Prasad Yarlagadda in partnership with Metro North Hospital and Health Service’s Professor Michael Schuetz and Associate Prof Kaushik Chatterjee from the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore.

Professor Prasad Yarlagadda working in his lab.


The research group will use the grant to further development of nanostructured surfaces that deactivate bacteria and viruses, before installing these surfaces in various Metro North facility environments for on-site testing.

QUT Professor Prasad Yarlagadda said the research would be particularly important in combatting future viruses and potential pandemics.

“By combining various research areas such as material science, nanofabrication, materials characterisation, microbiology and virology, our team will develop surfaces using a variety of materials and techniques to reduce the risk of infection in healthcare settings,” Professor Yarlagadda said.

Metro North clinician Professor Michael Schuetz said the team will study the antimicrobial capabilities across clinical areas including hospital trolleys, chairs, beds and even in intensive care areas.

“When successful in clinical practice, those surfaces can be an important element of reducing the risk of any infection being transmitted within a hospital,” Professor Schuetz said.

 “Through this project, we will build on our knowledge of nanostructured materials disabling pathogens, which can assist with potential future pandemics while strengthening our collaborative relationships both here and abroad.”

QUT researchers have received a grant for their COVID-19 surface research.


QUT medical devices specialist Professor Yarlagadda and virologist Professor Kirsten Spann rapidly began testing the novel coronavirus  SARS-cov-2, which causes COVID-19 disease, on the nano-structured surface, last year after publishing their findings on its antiviral properties against common viruses.

The wet-etching process was tested in a lab by being applied to commercially available aluminium alloy 6063 that is commonly used for doorknobs and frames, window panels and hospital and medical equipment.

Professor Yarlagadda said wet-etching created random nanotextures using strong etchants (etching solutions) to remove the surface and leave micro-nanostructures.

“The simple wet-etching technique gives surfaces a nanoscale roughness that people cannot feel, but which kills a range of bacteria and viruses,” Professor Yarlagadda said.

“We have tested the nanomechanical properties of the etched surfaces and found the nanopillars can withstand much larger forces than those applied by the hand.

“Since the process involves strong solvents, the etched surfaces have to be installed as end-products rather than treated in-situ.”

Professor Yarlagadda said the team had also developed another antibacterial technology for use with titanium that can be used for commercial applications to both orthopaedic implants and other surgical equipment.

Antiviral Nanostructured Surfaces Reduce the Viability of SARS-CoV-2 was published in ACS (American Chemical Society) Biomaterials, Science, Engineering.


Media contact: 
Madeline Healy, QUT Media, 3138 3083 or m5.healy@qut.edu.au
After hours, Rose Trapnell, QUT Media team leader, 0407 585 901, media@qut.edu.au



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