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Jenks Science & Technology group discusses antimicrobial masks and microelectronics

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Jenks speakers address antimicrobial face masks and the future direction of microeletronics

By Ron Latanision, John Brown, and Walter Hubbard  

The Wilson Science & Technology Forum in February included interesting, but perhaps unexpectedly, related presentations.  On Feb. 9, Professor Angel Serrano of Universidad Catolica de Valencia in Spain, spoke about the development of Antimicrobial Face Masks that protect against viral and bacterial infections and on Feb. 23, Professor Jesus A. Del Alamo, of MIT’s Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences Department, addressed the nature of future microchip development and deployment globally. The unexpected connection is the COVID pandemic!

On Feb. 9, Professor Angel Serrano Aroca of the Catholic University of Valencia (UCV) spoke about his work on Antimicrobial Face Masks, Face Shields and...Lipsticks.

Face masks and face shields are accepted to be effective protective tools to avoid bacterial and viral transmission, especially against indoor aerosol transmission. However, the commercial materials used to produce these tools are not capable of inactivating pathogens such as SARS-CoV-2 or multidrug-resistant bacteria.

Lipsticks are usually associated with higher physical, sexual and social attractiveness and are not generally made of antimicrobial materials either. In this context, Serrano and his colleagues have developed new antimicrobial face masks and face shields with a biofunctional coating of benzalkonium chloride (BAK).

These coatings were capable of inactivating the COVID virus in less than 1 minute of viral contact. Moreover, the BAK coating was also effective against the life-threatening methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and Staphylococcus epidermidis (MRSE).

Other antimicrobial face masks can be developed using a low-cost technology consisting of a solidified hand soap coating. Bio-based technologies for the production of antimicrobial face masks can also be applied using cranberry extracts by dip-coating.

A novel bio-based lipstick containing cranberry extract was also developed to prevent infections caused by a broad range of microorganisms, including: enveloped and non-enveloped viruses; multidrug-resistant bacteria like MRSA, Escherichia coli, and Mycobacterium smegmatis, a surrogate of Mycobacterium tuberculosis; and the Candida albicans fungus.

Therefore, all these antimicrobial tools are very promising in the current antimicrobial-resistance era.

 And, on Feb. 23, MIT Professor Jesus del Alamo spoke on the future direction of microelectronics, Microelectronics: Quo Vadis? The COVID pandemic, in dramatic form, made evident the critical role that microelectronics plays in modern human society.

Microelectronics is ubiquitous. But supply disruptions brought us the realization that semiconductor chips are like oxygen, only when we don’t have them, we come to appreciate how much we depend on them for nearly every aspect of our lives.

Indeed, countries around the world have all of a sudden recognized the strategic nature of semiconductor microelectronics, and policies to foster on-shore production of the most advanced chips and to strengthen the robustness of supply chains are being enacted around the globe. 

Beyond its strategic importance, semiconductor microelectronics is a domain that wonderfully illustrates what human ingenuity can accomplish.

For over 50 years now, the power of microelectronics has been increasing exponentially. While the popular press has been warning us of the impending “End of Moore’s Law,” technologists continue to push the technology forward. At any one time, they see 10 more years of continuous progress ahead.

The miracle of microchips is that it is a technology which is oriented toward devices that include the smallest physical features and the largest attendant costs of the machinery to produce them.

There is something truly miraculous about all of this. This talk reviewed the long march of microelectronics to this date and the opportunities and challenges going forward. In its late middle age, the field remains youthful and pregnant with possibilities.

UPCOMING LECTURES:

March 8, Rich Adler, Founder, Decision Path (USA), will follow up on his presentation from February 2023 by Revisiting Bending the Law of Unintended Consequences: More Decision Support Models. Rich will talk about some case history examples of decision making.

 March 22, Boston Globe business writer Jon Chesto, will join us. Jon has written on the problems of the grid and will speak on Massachusetts Role in the Future of the Regional Electric Grid.

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All Wilson Forum presentations are recorded and can be streamed free on demand at the Wilson Forum’s website, https://jenksst.blogspot.com/ 

WinCAM broadcasts recordings of Forum presentations at 3 pm on Mondays and Fridays. For the schedule, go to https://wincam.org/schedule/education/ and search for “Wilson.”

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The Wilson Forum’s meetings are via Zoom, usually at 10:30 am on the second and fourth Fridays of each month.

To learn of upcoming Forum speakers, you can check the Jenks Center’s website https://www.jenkscenter.org/  (events > daytime > Wilson Forum).

Alternatively, you can receive notifications of upcoming talks by emailing a request to be added to the Forum’s roster to rlatanision@alum.mit.edu.  

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