Zero Surface Contact Transmission: Scientists Developed A New Tool for Preventing Virus and Bacteria Spread

The cover page of Langmuir 2022, Volume 38, Issue 6the American Chemical Society

Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, people around the world have begun to critically discern the effectiveness of sanitation. A solution to mitigate the surface transmission of infectious diseases has now been developed by scientists from the University of California Santa Barbara and ACatechol, Inc. (USA) via international collaboration. This innovative scientific research has been published in the prestigious Langmuir (a peer-reviewed journal published by the American Chemical Society) and highlighted in the cover page of the journal. In the study, the new sanitizing technology outperformed currently available sanitizing and disinfecting products with up to 100,000,000 times higher surface germicidal efficacy.

Scientists globally have been working progressively to develop new sanitization or disinfection technologies to ensure zero transmission of harmful microorganisms via surface contact. Studies show that people touch their faces on an average of 16~23 times per hour, where half of the touch involves their mouth, eyes, and nose. Yet, current products could not prevent the spread of pathogens via surface contacts because it is impossible to wash/sanitize hands, or clean/disinfect objects on every physical contact or each droplet settlement. Moreover, the surfaces are subject to reinfection immediately afterwards.

Current approaches to address such problems involve either embedding heavy metals or biocides such as monoionic quaternary ammonium compounds into surfaces. However, these approaches take several hours to kill germs, and depletion of active ingredients after serval touches is inevitable.

“Unfortunately, due to the lack of knowledge and misunderstanding, people are currently using metal-coated stickers and biocide-embeded coatings in high traffic touching areas for mitigation, which rely on leaching,” says Professor Dr. Kollbe Ahn Ando, corresponding author of this research paper.

The above issues can be now addressed by the new technology with Gemini-quaternary silane. Gemini surfactants are a novel class of surfactants that possess two or more hydrophilic head groups separated by a spacer, and display surface activities often orders of magnitude higher than their conventional counterparts.

Despite their superiority, Gemini surfactants have not yet been translated into virucidal/antimicrobial coatings.

“Thanks to the National Science Foundation COVID-19 Research Grant, in this project, we developed a new class of quaternary ammonium coatings mediated with structural elements of powerful Gemini surfactants,” said Dr. Roscoe Linstadt, lead author of the study.

The study shows that the new class of gemini-mediated surface sanitizing technology kills and inactivates pathogens including SARS-CoV2 and various nosocomial bacteria as well as skin-trouble-causing bacteria immediately, and continues to remain active on surfaces in-between cleanings with >99.99% residual efficacy. The germicidal barrier can last up to 15 days

“This technology can potentially save 11 million lives each year from blood-stream infections, the # 1 cause of hospital deaths. Those healthcare-acquired infections are transmitted through surfaces,” said Dr. Kollbe.

Hand sanitizers enabled with the Gemini technology are already registered with the FDA and disinfectant registration with this Gemini technology is currently in progress with the EPA. To know more about the study, visit: To know more about the hand sanitizer product, visit: To know about the research team, visit:

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