A new study by researchers at Brown University discovered a chemical-free solution for mosquito bites. The key is graphene.
Graphene is a highly flexible nanomaterial that has received a lot of attention for its possible uses in everything from solar cells to tennis rackets. The research team discovered that graphene can also function as an excellent mosquito repellent.
The study shows that graphene-coated clothing not only functions as an effective physical barrier against mosquito bites, but also changes their behavior. Graphene-based clothing can block chemical signals that attract mosquitoes to you.
For the study, the volunteers had their arms covered with graphene oxide films covered with gauze or simply with gauze.
Participants’ arms were exposed to a small enclosure of disease-free mosquitoes. Participants with graphene in their arms did not receive a single bite.
Brown Ph.D. Cintia Castillho, who was the lead author of the study, said:
With graphene, mosquitoes didn’t even land in the skin patch, they just didn’t seem to care. We assumed that graphene would be a physical barrier to bite, through resistance to punctures, but when we saw these experiments we began to think that it was also a chemical barrier that prevents mosquitoes from feeling that someone is there.
Stay away from water
Unfortunately, graphene becomes ineffective when it gets wet. When graphene was exposed to sweat, mosquitoes came to the volunteer’s arm in the same way they would on bare skin. But when the researchers used graphene with reduced oxygen content (rGO), it was effective in both dry and wet conditions.
Scientists say the next step would be to mechanically stabilize graphene so that it remains effective when wet.
If you’re curious to see how this new technology works, you won’t have to wait long, as manufacturers are already adding graphene to portable and electronic devices such as jackets, battery packs and more.