Graphene can be useful to prevent mosquitoes from biting

According to a group of researchers at Brown University, graphene, a very thin nanomaterial that can be as thick as a single atom, can be used to combat mosquito bites.

This ultra-thin but very resistant material, when placed over the skin, can in fact form a real barrier that prevents mosquitoes from sticking their “sting” into the flesh. Moreover, as shown by some experiments, the same graphene also succeeds in blocking the chemical signals from the human body that mosquitoes can easily perceive.

The idea came to the researchers, as said by Robert Hurt, a professor at Brown’s School of Engineering, one of the authors of the study, while he was working on substances made from graphene. They thought that the same substance could also be useful in environments where there are many mosquitoes. They had their arms inserted into several participants in an experiment in a container full of mosquitoes with the area of the arm covered with a thin layer of graphene, gauze or nothing.

The researchers discovered that the mosquitoes completely changed their behavior in the presence of the arm covered with graphene, such as Cintia Castilho, the author of the study: “With graphene mosquitoes did not even land on the skin area – they just did not seem to care. We had assumed that graphene would be a physical barrier to bite, by resistance to perforation, 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.”

However, this was only true when the graphene layer was dry: during the experiments, when it was wet, the mosquitoes could pierce it with their own stitch. This was a problem because graphene oxide is breathable and sweat can pass through it.

The researchers then created a new version with a reduced oxygen content. This new version offered a barrier against mosquito bites, both when the layer was dry and when it was wet.


See also:

https://www.pnas.org/content/early/2019/08/20/1906612116

Image source:

https://scx2.b-cdn.net/gfx/news/hires/2019/mosquitoinco.jpg

Janice Walker

Janice Walker is a biologist (having graduated from Prescott College in 2013) and an experienced writer. She currently works as a pharmacist, contributing research and content to Home of Science during her nights and weekends. During her time at Prescott College she was an active contributor to her student journal and hopes to grow homeofscience.net up as a well established, popular science blog.
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Janice Walker