Adsorption and Inactivation of SARS-CoV-2 on the Surface of Anatase TiO2(101)

by M. Kohantorabi, M. Wagstaffe, M. Creutzburg, A. Ugolotti, C. Di Valentin, et al.
ACS Appl. Mater. Interfaces 2023, 15, 6, pp. 8770–8782 View at Publisher
DOI: 10.1021/acsami.2c22078


We investigated the adsorption of severe acute respiratory syndrome corona virus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), the virus responsible for the current pandemic, on the surface of the model catalyst TiO2(101) using atomic force microscopy, transmission electron microscopy, fluorescence microscopy, and X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy, accompanied by density functional theory calculations. Three different methods were employed to inactivate the virus after it was loaded on the surface of TiO2(101): (i) ethanol, (ii) thermal, and (iii) UV treatments. Microscopic studies demonstrate that the denatured spike proteins and other proteins in the virus structure readsorb on the surface of TiO2 under thermal and UV treatments. The interaction of the virus with the surface of TiO2 was different for the thermally and UV treated samples compared to the sample inactivated via ethanol treatment. AFM and TEM results on the UV-treated sample suggested that the adsorbed viral particles undergo damage and photocatalytic oxidation at the surface of TiO2(101) which can affect the structural proteins of SARS-CoV-2 and denature the spike proteins in 30 min. The role of Pd nanoparticles (NPs) was investigated in the interaction between SARS-CoV-2 and TiO2(101). The presence of Pd NPs enhanced the adsorption of the virus due to the possible interaction of the spike protein with the NPs. This study is the first investigation of the interaction of SARS-CoV-2 with the surface of single crystalline TiO2(101) as a potential candidate for virus deactivation applications. Clarification of the interaction of the virus with the surface of semiconductor oxides will aid in obtaining a deeper understanding of the chemical processes involved in photoinactivation of microorganisms, which is important for the design of effective photocatalysts for air purification and self-cleaning materials.