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Get Ready For Light Activated Antimicrobials

By Sandra Levy, associate editor | October 8, 2010

LAAMScience Inc, a four-year-old company based in Morrisville, NC, is unveiling Serqet, a light activated antibacterial and antiviral coating technology that can be applied to wovens, nonwovens, natural and synthetic fabrics and a variety of polymers.

Serqet technology, licensed from North Carolina State University (NCSU) was developed by Stephen Michelsen at NCSU and Gordon Churchward of Emory University. The technology produces singlet oxygen, a broad spectrum antibacterial and antiviral agent that is generated when exposed to visible light.

Current applications include N95 respirator masks, surgical masks and semi-disposable cleaning wipes, such as kitchen wipes and dishwashing towels.

"As light hits the surface, the oxygen in the air changes into singlet oxygen and then back to regular oxygen. The energy of light changes oxygen to singlet oxygen, which is very reactive. Singlet oxygen inactivates or eliminates viruses and does not allow any odor or bacteria to grow. Within milliseconds it changes back to normal oxygen, but these reactions continuously reoccur as long as the surface is exposed to visible light. The greater the light intensity, the faster the rate of singlet oxygen generation and therefore higher rates of bacterial and viral kill," said Josef Schneider, LAAMScience's executive vice president.

Noting that the coating doesn't contain any metals, such as copper, zinc, or silver, Mr. Schneider added, "Our wipes work when they are dry or wet. The chemistry does not leach off the product after washing. The treated product can be washed up to ten times. It has efficacy in the light for up to three months and when in the package it has a shelf life of three years."

Walter Schwarz, LAAMScience's president said, "Everybody is looking to be environmentally safe and environmentally friendly. We can manufacture cotton or PLA wipes with different blends, including rayon fibers, and treat them with our chemistry. We have a Serqet-treated wipe that absorbs eight to ten times its own weight in water."

LAAMScience will offer a 2.5-ounce and a 4-ounce wipe in a 13-inch by 15-inch format. "We plan to do the pricing on an item by item basis. A Serqet-treated fabric is less complicated to produce in comparison to copper, zinc or silver treated products. Our product will be substantially cheaper than competitive products since it is semi-durable, can be washed and used multiple times. Assuming a family uses one roll of untreated paper towels every two weeks, the cost is about $6.30 for eight weeks, compared to a Serqet cloth which is under $2 a cloth and it lasts up to 12 weeks," said Mr. Schneider.

When it comes to storage of Serqet treated products, there are no temperature requirements, according to Mr. Schneider. "Our products are packaged in such a way that almost no light can penetrate. The only requirement is to keep the package closed during storage," said Mr. Schneider.