Covalent Functionalization of Melt-Blown Polypropylene Filters with Diazirine–Photosensitizer Conjugates Producing Visible Light Driven Virus Inactivating Materials.
The SARS-CoV-2 pandemic has highlighted the weaknesses of relying on single-use mask and respirator personal protective equipment (PPE) and the global supply chain that supports this market. There have been no major innovations in filter technology for PPE in the past two decades. Non-woven textiles used for filtering PPE are single-use products in the healthcare environment; use and protection is focused on preventing infection from airborne or aerosolized pathogens such as Influenza A virus SARS-CoV-2. Recently, C–H bond activation under mild and controllable conditions was reported for crosslinking commodity aliphatic polymers such as polyethylene and polypropylene. Significantly, these are the same types of polymers used in PPE filtration systems. In this report, we take advantage of this C–H insertion method to covalently attach a photosensitizing zinc-porphyrin to the surface of a melt-blow non-woven textile filter material. With the photosensitizer covalently attached to the surface of the textile, illumination with visible light was expected to produce oxidizing 1O2/ROS at the surface of the material that would result in pathogen inactivation. The filter was tested for its ability to inactivate Influenza A virus, an enveloped RNA virus similar to SARS-CoV-2, over a period of four hours with illumination of high intensity visible light. The photosensitizer-functionalized polypropylene filter inactivated our model virus by 99.99% in comparison to a control.