TORONTO, April 30, 2020 /PRNewswire-PRWeb/ -- In his announcement Chairman of CVMR Corporation, Kamran M. Khozan stated, "As the world deals with the current COVID 19 pandemic, we should be mindful of the fact that viruses do have a positive side to them. They have taught us how to engineer self-assembled nanostructures by imitating their structures in building nanodevices that generate energy, store electricity, construct extremely small and complex electronic devices and a myriad of other technical tools. So far, over 5,000 viruses have been discovered and each one has inspired a new invention."
What a virus needs in order to replicate is the DNA of the host cell. In its reproduction process, a virus' RNA copies its genetic information into the host cell's DNA, inducing it to replicate the viral genome. This process allows a virus to multiply rapidly. The newly created viruses are then released from the host cell, causing the cell to break apart and die.
Scientists and engineers at CVMR exploit the viral replication process by engineering nanostructures that are compatible of replicating themselves similar to the structure and modus operandi of viruses. It is now possible to engineer nanostructures that, like viruses, self-assemble their scaffoldings and are able to modulate the assembly of their own nanostructures. As such, viruses guide us in the manufacture of virus-like or even virus-based materials that can self-assemble into precise positions and organize themselves with novel material properties at nanoscales. The application of such materials ranges from pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, sunscreens, food packaging and disinfectants, to lasers, artificial joints, solar panels, high-power rechargeable batteries, lightweight vehicles and antireflective, ultraviolet resistant glasses.
The properties of particles at nanoscales differ significantly from those in their bulk form. Small particles have an increased surface area which markedly changes their original physical and chemical characteristics.
Nanometal Powders with Antibacterial Properties
The toxic effect of some metal ions, such as copper, silver and cadmium on bacteria, algae, spores, and fungi, was discovered as far back as 1893. These metal ions bind to essential cell components such as bacterial DNA, preventing them from performing their most basic functions. The impact of these metals on bacteria is enhanced when they are presented in the nano-powder form.
The morphology of the microbes and the morphology of the copper being used affect the mechanism and the speed of copper's toxic effect against bacterial infections. Nanoparticle size copper particles with an average size of 150 to 200 nanometers used in various alloys have proven to have highly effective antibacterial properties on the surfaces we touch.
The ancient Egyptian, Babylonian and Persian soldiers would pour filings of their bronze swords on their wounds to prevent infection. Hippocrates in Greece and Aztec healers treated skin infections with various pastes made from copper powder . French vine-growers prevent fungal infection of their vines by applying a mixture of copper and lime to their vines, known as the Bordeaux paste.
Nanostructures that Generate Electricity from Solar Heat
One of the most famous nanostructures, graphene, is a single layer of carbon atoms in a two-dimensional hexagonal lattice. It is the basic building block of graphite and carbon nanotubes. It has anti-corrosion properties when used in paints. It improves the efficiency of various sensors, improves the speed and efficiency of electronics and increases their memory capacity while improving their screen display. It can be used in drug delivery and DNA sequencing and it can create more efficient solar panels.
The sustainability of solar panel power generators, which use nanotechnology in their structures, is well known. However, their production cost of electricity is twice as much as that of natural gas. To overcome this barrier, a team of scientists and chemical engineers at CVMR laboratories in Toronto, Ontario, have developed a series of graphene coatings, which are formed from captured CO2 emitted by various industrial operations. The nanomaterial properties of these coatings allow the capture of solar heat (not light) and its conversion to electricity. A thin layer of self-assembled graphene sheets vertically align themselves, like the pages of a microscopic book. The captured solar heat through this assembly of graphene sheets is converted to kinetic energy and ultimately to electricity. The cost estimate for such a device is far less than the current solar panels. Moreover, it is more robust, dust does not reduce its efficiency, requires very little maintenance and can produce electricity, off grid, 24/7, by storing the surplus energy it produces in vanadium batteries.
More importantly, it converts a green-house gas (CO2) that is harmful to the environment to valuable and highly in-demand graphene and graphite, in effect creating a source of income for the polluters while reducing their carbon footprint and saving them from the carbon tax. All this thanks to what we have learned from viruses.
CVMR Corporation was awarded two matching grants from the Ontario Centres of Excellence (OCE) in 2017 and 2018-2019 for the capture of CO2 and its conversion to graphene and graphite.
Daniel J. Howard
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