Graphene is a highly flexible super-material that is utilized for building solar cells. However, it is also a strong mosquito repellent. We all get annoyed by mosquitos, and those pesky insects can be hard to keep at bay. Now that is something that we all can relate to, right?
That is where a team of researchers from Brown University comes in with its discovery that graphene-lined clothing can not only serve as an effective physical barrier to mosquito bites but can also help in changing their behavior. The study was published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. It was discovered that the graphene could block the chemical signals that draw mosquitos to other living beings.
Cintia Castillho, a Ph.D. student at Brown University, said, ‘With the graphene, the mosquitos weren’t even landing on the skin patch — they just didn’t seem to care. We had assumed that graphene would be a physical barrier to biting, through puncture resistance, but when we saw these experiments, we started to think that it was also a chemical barrier that prevents mosquitos from sensing that someone is there.’ For the study, the researchers covered the arms of participants using either graphene oxide films that were covered by cheesecloth or just cheesecloth. The study concluded that those who were covered using graphene didn’t get a single bite.
Unfortunately, though, graphene oxide tends to lose its effectiveness when it gets wet. Whereas, it is the kind of environment where mosquitos thrive. According to the findings of scientists, mosquitos succeeded in puncturing the graphene oxide films that had been soaked in water. However, upon using graphene that had reduced oxygen content (rGO), they discovered that it served as a bite barrier in wet and dry conditions.
The drawback of using rGO is that it is breathable and therefore will most likely not make it to camping clothing. However, scientists are looking for means to stabilize graphene so that it remains strong even when it is wet. Brown University professor Robert Hurt said, ‘This next step would give us the full benefits of breathability and bite protection.’