Graphene Is the HighTech Mosquito Repellent Youll Want to Wear

first_imgStay on target Don’t like Skrillex “music” or the idea of slathering parasitic worm bacteria on your skin?Researchers discovered that nanomaterial graphene—used in everything from solar cells to tennis rackets—also prevents mosquito bites.In a paper published by the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, a team from Brown University describe how multilayer graphene provides a two-fold defense against pesky insects.The ultra-thin-yet-strong material apparently acts as a barrier that mosquitoes can’t bite through.It also blocks chemical signals the wee flies use to sense a blood meal is near, sapping their urge to snack in the first place.“Mosquitoes are important vectors for disease all over the world, and there’s a lot of interest in non-chemical mosquito bite protection,” senior study author Robert Hurt, a professor at Brown, said in a statement.Researchers experimented to see if graphene could prevent mosquito bites (via Brown University)“We had been working on fabrics that incorporate graphene as a barrier against toxic chemicals, and we started thinking about what else the approach might be good for,” he continued. “We thought maybe graphene could provide mosquito bite protection as well.”To test their theories, Hurt & Co. recruited a group of brave individuals willing to risk a few bug bites in the name of science: Participants placed their arms in a mosquito-filled enclosure, exposing only a small patch of skin.Researchers then compared the number of bites received on bare skin, skin covered in cheesecloth, and skin covered by a graphene oxide (GO) film sheathed in cheesecloth.Spoiler alert: graphene was an obvious bite deterrent.Wearing dry GO films, participants didn’t get a single bite, whereas bare and cheesecloth-covered skin was readily feasted upon.“With the graphene, the mosquitoes weren’t even landing on the skin patch—they just didn’t seem to care,” according to Cintia Castillho, a PhD student at Brown and the study’s lead author.A dry graphene oxide film can prevent mosquito bites (via Brown University)“We assumed that graphene would be a physical barrier to biting, through puncture resistance,” she explained. “But when we saw these experiments we started to think that it was also a chemical barrier that prevents mosquitoes from sensing that someone is there.”Moving forward, the team must find a way to stabilize the GO so that it’s tougher when wet; another form with reduced oxygen content (rGO) provides a bite barrier when wet and dry.The former, however, has a distinct advantage when it comes to wearable technology.“GO is breathable, meaning you can sweat through it, while rGO isn’t,” Hurt said. “So our preferred embodiment of this technology would be to find a way to stabilize GO mechanically so that [it] remains strong when wet.“This next step would give us the full benefits of breathability and bite protection,” he added.More on Change Puts 1B People at Risk of Mosquito-Borne DiseasesStudy: Mosquitoes Can Hear Sounds From Far AwayScientists Could Soon Develop ‘Birth Control’ for Mosquitoes Climate Change Puts 1B People At Risk of Mosquito-Borne DiseasesScientists Use ‘Half A Mosquito-Worth’ of DNA to Produce Whole Genome last_img

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