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Covid-19 update 12 November 2020

12 Nov 2020

A round-up of this week's coronavirus-related news and countermeasures from the photonics industry.

Dutch soccer club PSV Eindhoven has announced that it is tackling the possibility of Covid-19 infection at the team’s Philips Stadium, in the city of Eindhoven, by installing UV-C disinfection lighting from Signify.

Lighting company Signify recently launched a portfolio of luminaires and devices with UV-C disinfection lighting, designed for the professional market. Together with Boston University the company validated the effectiveness of UV-C light sources in deactivating SARS-CoV-2, the virus causing Covid-19.

For this reason, PSV Eindhoven contracted Signify to install UV-C disinfection lighting in some of its indoor spaces, including the dressing rooms in the Philips Stadium and in some spaces at its training facility De Herdgang. PSV is the first soccer club in the Netherlands to install UV-C disinfection lighting.

Signify will install 15 Philips UV-C disinfection upper air luminaires. Three of those in the dressing room of its own team and three in the dressing room of the visiting team in the Philips Stadium. Another five will be installed in the dressing room at PSV Campus De Herdgang and four in the medical section at this training facility.

Frans Janssen, Commercial Director at PSV, commented, “Safeguarding player health is very important to us and essential for matches to continue. That is why we want to protect them, and the visiting players, to the best of our ability. We are convinced that the Philips UV-C disinfection upper air lighting enables us to provide our players with that extra layer of protection.”

UKRI’s Covid-19 rolling call to close in December

UK researchers are advised to submit any proposals for short-term projects that address the coronavirus pandemic before UK Research and Innovation’s Covid-19 rolling call closes.

The ongoing UKRI Covid-19 rolling call, which has been welcoming urgent applications on a wide range of coronavirus pandemic-related research and innovation, is due to stop accepting new proposals: the final deadline for business-led applications has been extended to 9 December 2020; and the deadline for research applications has been set as 15 December 2020.

UKRI is advising anyone planning to submit any further proposals to do so well ahead of the closing date to avoid a late surge in applications. Unless absolutely essential, any proposals received close to the deadline will be processed in January, 2021.

Professor Charlotte Deane, Covid-19-Response Director at UKRI, commented, “This has been a challenging year for all research and innovation communities, but we’ve witnessed first-hand the amazing agility and creativity of our world-class sector to tackle the urgent questions posed by the pandemic. We are preparing to move from the initial phase, which required an urgent response to this crisis, to a longer-term approach as the world learns to live with and manage the pandemic.”

Hamamatsu has reported an annual sales fall of 3.9% and profits down by 14.4%, which the Japan-based diversified photonics systems supplier blames on a combination of the Covid-19 pandemic; US- China trade friction; and a "sluggish" global economy.

In its latest financial statement, published on November 9th, the company stated: “During the fiscal year ended September 30, 2020, Japan’s economy, while continuing to face sluggish exports owing to trade friction between the U.S. and China and a slowing overseas economy, experienced extremely harsh conditions in business activity resulting from not just a massive decrease in demand from the global spread of the novel coronavirus, but also restrained capital investment among companies.

“Given these circumstances, our group has striven to prevent the impact on production activities from Covid-19 infection among employees, while minimizing the risks posed on the business, such as by maintaining a stable supply of products.

“While strengthening our sales structure and promoting capital investment in preparation for sales expansion in the future, we have striven to secure net sales and profit by promoting research and development that takes advantage of the company’s proprietary photonics technologies, which we have accumulated over many years.

“As a result, we closed the fiscal year 2020 with net sales of JPY 140,251 M ($1.316B), down by 3.9% from the previous year, due to decreases in both domestic and overseas sales. From an earnings perspective, operating profit was JPY 21,752M ($203.4M), down by 14.4%, ordinary profit was JPY 22,692M ($212.2M), down by 13.6%, and profit attributable to owners of parent was JPY 16,523M ($154.5M), down by 17.0% from the previous year. Accordingly, revenue and profits regrettably decreased.”

Adapted cloth face masks can be disinfected by sunlight

During the Covid-19 pandemic, many people have become accustomed to wearing cotton face masks in public places. However, viruses and bacteria that stick to the mask could be transferred elsewhere when the wearer removes or touches it.

Now, researchers reporting in ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces have developed a special type of cotton face mask that kills up to 99.9999% of bacteria and viruses within 60 minutes of daylight exposure.

Face masks made of various cloth materials can filter nanoscale aerosol particles — such as those released by a cough or sneeze — potentially helping to reduce the spread of diseases, including Covid-19. But live bacteria and viruses on the surface of the mask could still be contagious.

Peixin Tang, Gang Sun, Nitin Nitin, and colleagues, working at the University of California, Davis, wanted to develop a new cotton fabric that would release reactive oxygen species (ROS) when exposed to daylight, killing microbes attached to the fabric's surfaces while being washable, reusable and safe for the wearer. Then, a person could disinfect their cloth mask during their lunch hour outside in the sun, or by spending a longer period of time under office or building lights, which are much less intense than sunlight.

Solar power

The researchers made their antimicrobial fabrics by attaching positively charged chains of 2-diethylaminoethyl chloride (DEAE-Cl) to ordinary cotton. Then, they dyed the modified cotton in a solution of a negatively charged photosensitizer (a compound that releases ROS upon exposure to light), which attached to the DEAE chains by strong electrostatic interactions.

The team found that a fabric made with a dye called Rose Bengal, as the photosensitizer, killed 99.9999% of bacteria added to the fabric within 60 minutes of daylight exposure and inactivated 99.9999% of T7 bacteriophage — a virus thought to be more resistant to ROS than some coronaviruses — within 30 minutes.

Further testing showed that the material could be hand washed at least 10 times and constantly exposed to daylight for at least 7 days without losing its antimicrobial activity. The fabric shows promise for making reusable, antibacterial/antiviral cloth face masks and protective suits, the researchers say.

First Light ImagingHÜBNER PhotonicsMad City Labs, Inc.LASEROPTIK GmbHAlluxaBerkeley Nucleonics CorporationHyperion Optics
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