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By   – Staff Writer, Orlando Business Journal

Two researchers at the University of Central Florida just received a national grant related to their coronavirus research.

UCF Materials Science and Engineering Department Chairman Sudipta Seal and UCF College of Medicine’s Associate Dean for Research Griffith Parks were selected by the National Science Foundation to receive $200,000 to research a coating for protective equipment. The coating would use nanostructures — which are not visible to the eye — and allow for the virus to be killed on the material.

“Why not come up with a protective film made of nanostructures that could catch and kill the virus?” Seal said in a prepared statement. “I could come up with the nanoparticles, I was sure, but would the concept work with a virus? I called Dr. Parks and yes, he thought it could work.”

If successful, the coating could be used on masks, gloves and gowns for health care professionals. The materials are made at UCF’s main campus and transferred to a lab at the College of Medicine in southeast Orlando’s Lake Nona neighborhood, where researchers test the material with viruses in the same family as Covid-19.

Because the lab does not have clearance to do tests with Covid-19, the researchers will send those out to a certified lab that can test their successful samples against the coronavirus directly. Research of the materials is expected to take a couple of months, and the research could be applied to future pandemics.

Other members of the university community also are pitching into coronavirus-related initiatives. While UCF’s campuses are closed to most activities, special exceptions are made for research and other activities related to the coronavirus.