COVID-19, Nano, and You

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For many of us, our news feeds and personal conversations have been dominated this week by COVID-19. The disease caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) has been in the U.S. for a couple of months, but public awareness has been increasing rapidly and we have reached the point where many university campuses are shifting to online classes in an effort to reduce community exposure and flatten the curve of the epidemic. There are tons of complicated logistics involved in any change like this: for example, see “How to close colleges without hurting vulnerable students” from David Perry in the Washington Post, or the University of Minnesota’s COVID-19 Guidance for Research website for scientists on campus.

Safety and public health are obviously paramount in times of crisis. But once you’re up to speed on your own plans for social distancing, self-quarantine, and taking care of your mental health, we’re here to help you learn a little nanoscience!

Illustration of an example coronavirus created by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The core part of the virus is gray, and the red spikes around the outside form the corona. (image by Alissa Eckert, MS, Dan Higgins, MAMS, unfortunately missing a scale bar but probably about 120 nm across)

One way to think about coronavirus and nanoscience is to remember that viruses are often the same size as nanoparticles. In fact, one of our first podcast episodes was Viruses: Biology’s Nanoparticles, an interview with Prof. M.G. Finn of Georgia Tech. Given that, it’s fair to say that pretty much all coronavirus science is nanoscience! So here are a handful of resources to help you catch up on the science behind COVID-19:

Curious about how hand sanitizers and soap work against viruses and bacteria? They are both effective; for the former, Compound Interest has an infographic for you:

infographic by Compound Interest

As for soap, here’s a great Twitter thread by Palli Thordarson, a chemistry professor at the University of New South Wales:

So here’s hoping for a healthy weekend, Sustainable Nano readers! And please share — what are your favorite resources on COVID-19 science?