Why nanotechnology proves an ally in fighting viruses and microbes? How materials are engineered at nano- or micro- level to help us against those disguised organisms that threaten our existence? How can materials scientists make our everyday life safer? Welcome on a magical journey of how science can assist fighting pandemics and make our world cleaner and safer.

Back to basics

Dish detergents are an everyday use for most people. They feel like magic! A few droplets on fatty stains and nasty oil spots disappear, just by rinsing with water. How this magic works? How persistent greasy food residues disappear? It’s all based on chemistry’s basic principle: same love the same or, in other words, oil loves oil, and watery elements love watery elements. That’s why oil never mixes with water. Paint thinners, which are oil derivatives, readily mix with cooking oil. Alcohols, which carry hydrophilic (=water loving) molecular groups, never mix with vegetable oil, but they readily mix with water. Scientifically, we call water-loving moieties as polar groups, while fat-loving groups as non-polar groups.

Therefore, polar groups love polar molecules or solvents (like water), while non-polar groups prefer fatty, non-polar solvents or thinners. Surprisingly, detergents carry both: polar and non-polar groups. Figure 1 depicts how a detergent molecule looks like. There is a non-polar end or fatty tail made of carbon atoms. Typically, it’s pretty long, comprising not by a few carbon atoms but ten or twelve or even twenty carbon atoms. On the other side, there is a polar group (sulfates, phosphates, carboxylates, ethoxylates, or others) that are in love with the polar solvents like water.

Great, we got it. So how food stains disappear? As explained above, the non-polar part of a detergent is attracted to greasy stains.

So the moment they get in contact, the fatty, non-polar tail of the detergent dissolves inside the fattystainbody.What stays outside? The polar, water-loving polar part of the detergent, which hates oily stains. But what does that mean? It means that the oil stain has a skin of detergent molecules that expose around it their polar, water-loving character. “Beam (Flush) me up, Scotty”: water stream is ready to dissolve those water-loving, modified fatty stains, cause now they present a polar, not fatty acid character. Stains are washed away as detergent molecules modified their character from non-polar (not water-loving) to polar (water-loving). And that makes it easy for a water stream to wash stains away.

Microbes and Viruses: What do they look like?

Microorganisms can be found almost everywhere on Earth. Bacteria and Archaea are almost always microscopic, while several eukaryotes are also microscopic, including most protists, some fungi, as well as some micro-animals and plants. Viruses are generally regarded as not living and, therefore, not considered as microorganisms, although a subfield of microbiology is virology, the study of viruses. Funny enough, viruses are typically not classified as microbes. Most diseases caused by viruses have never found a real cure (flu, Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID‑19), acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS), Ebola virus disease, to name a few). Nevertheless, they all share a common attribute: a phospholipid bilayer membrane structure. It doesn’t matter if it’s a virus or a bacterium. They all have polar/non-polar external membrane, in a format that resembles a fluid mosaic. Phospholipid structure has a red, polar head and a yellow, twin fatty tail. Phospholipids merge on their tail side to create a membrane. This membrane is called a cell wall or bacterium wall, or even a virus wall. Even though there are some differences among them, the basic membrane structure is the same: Detergent like molecules prevent molecular exchange in and out of the microbe (or virus) and preserve the functionality or “life” of the microorganism. This fluid mosaic structure is accommodating other functional molecules that are called proteins or enzymes. Proteins or enzymes are like “traffic officers”, permitting specific nutrients to pass through the impermeable cell or bacterium or virus phospholipid membrane.

Even SARS-CoV-2, the virus causing the COVID-19 disease, presents a lipid membrane that encapsulates its RNA. Spike proteins, housed in the lipid membrane, play a crucial role in penetrating host cells and initiating infection.

So how detergents and microbes correlate?

What is the essential advice to maintain hygiene? What is the elementary proposition in the fight against COVID-19 disease is to remember always to wash our hands! So there must be a correlation between detergent molecules (contained in soap) and the well-being of the nasty microbes and viruses! Darn right! Detergents destabilize the phospholipid membrane, up to the point that it can no longer stand rigid. Just like the case of the fatty food residues, membrane phospholipids get penetrated by detergents that break down the well-organized structure of a bacterium or virion wall, making holes that result in the death of the microorganism. It’s just like a knife in the heart of an orange: detergents break down microbes or viruses, terminating disease spreading.

Which knife is best stabbing microbes or viruses?

If detergents were conceived as a stabbing knife to the fate of microbes or viruses, several knife shapes would do the job. Some blades are better suited for gram-positive bacteria, others for gram-negative. Scientists are looking for the best knives for stabbing viruses; nevertheless, there is one family of molecules that acts perfectly against a wide range of microbes and viruses: quaternary ammonium compounds or QACs. QACs behave like swords: They penetrate the outer membrane of viruses or bacteria and, by disrupting the stability of the phospholipid membrane, they burst and terminate microorganisms. One key point: The moment QAC swords stab the microorganism, they can’t get out. They are considered depleted, and the next microorganism will need a new sword to get deactivated.

And what’s noteworthy about NanoPhos formulations

NanoPhos has all QACs molecules arranged in a way to maximize their performance. We get them anchored on a surface, waiting for the best opportunity to inflict a deadly kill to a microbe or virus. Furthermore, having the QACs anchored on a surface it allows for prolonged performance. QACs are water-soluble and can be washed away before having the opportunity to act against microorganisms. However, putting some silicone anchors in NanoPhos formulations allows for a) permanent anchoring of the “QACs swords” on the surface and b) directing the “QACs swords” to the side of the enemy microorganisms.


All-in-all, it’s not just we use the best swords: We have them permanently anchored, ready, sharpened, and directed to the helpless microorganisms.

All-in-all, it’s not just we use the best swords: We have them permanently anchored, ready, sharpened, and directed to the helpless microorganisms.

DeSalin Eco

QACs permanent swords and a Gemini type of detergent for cleaning and sterilizing all surfaces. Available also in spray-head, 100 mL (3.4 oz) travel-size packaging for carrying around easily. Ideal for kitchen countertops, tabletops, seats, taxis, buses, handles, door knobs, and any other surface that could be potentially contaminated.

DeSalin Mas

QACs permanent swords for fogger devices. It is ideal for extensive area disinfection without any hazard for human or animal health—dilutable ten times its original volume.

DeSalin AIrClean

QACs permanent swords and a Gemini type of detergent for cleaning coils and air filters of air-conditioning units. HVAC (Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning) systems lack the capacity of exclusively using fresh air for cooling or heating. The required energy is enormous. Therefore, only a small fraction of fresh air that seldom exceeds 20% is used. The rest remains recirculated. It is claimed that hot summer temperatures could create situations similar to those in winter, when respiratory ailments tend to surge, driving people indoors to breathe — and rebreathe air that typically is little refreshed from outside. As people go indoors in hot weather, and the rebreathed air fraction goes up, the risk of infection is quite dramatic! Protect your AC filters!

DeSalin Kalk

QACs permanent swords, combined with an acidic formulation that can eliminate salt deposits and restore shine on bathroom sanitaryware.

DeSalin Lime

QACs permanent swords and calcium hydroxide base for cleaning and disinfecting hard floor surfaces. Ideal for tiles, stone, or marble surfaces. Especially for marble, DeSalin Lime “feeds” them with calcium carbonate and restores their natural composition.

Sounds great. Any external references?

All NanoPhos formulations have been tested and accredited under the following internationally accredited standards:

  • ISO EN 1276:2019: Chemical disinfectants and antiseptics. Quantitative suspension test for the evaluation of bactericidal activity of chemical disinfectants and antiseptics used in food, industrial, domestic and institutional areas
  • ISO EN 13697:2015+A1 2019: Chemical disinfectants and antiseptics – Quantitative non-porous surface test for the evaluation of bactericidal activity of chemical disinfectants used in food, industrial, domestic and institutional areas.
  • ISO EN 1650:2019: Chemical disinfectants and antiseptics. Quantitative suspension test for the evaluation of fungicidal or yeasticidal activity of chemical disinfectants and antiseptics used in food, industrial, domestic and institutional areas.
  • ISO EN 1500:2013 Chemical disinfectants and antiseptics – Hygienic hand rub
  • ISO EN 27447:2019: Test method for antibacterial activity of semiconducting photocatalytic materials
  • Australian Government Therapeutic Goods (Standard for Disinfectants and Sanitary Products) (TGO 104) 2019
  • AOAC Germicidal Spray Products as Disinfectants Test 961.02:2012

QACS presents strong, short-term efficacy against

  • Candida Cryptococcus 
  • Microsporum Trichophyton 
  • Measles Mumps Norovirus 
  • Respiratory Syncytial
  • Rotavirus Tacaribe Usutu West
  • Nile Yellow fever Zika 
  • Adenovirus Coronavirus SARS 
  • Coronavirus MERS
  • Dengue Ebola Epstein-Barr 
  • Hepatitis Herpes HIV Marburg 
  • Mycoplasma Proteus
  • Pseudomonas Salmonella 
  • Shigella Staphylococcus 
  • Streptococcus Treponema Vibrio
  • Cholerae Yersinia Actinomyces
  • Brucella Chlamydia
  • Corynebacterium Enterobacter 
  • Enterococcus Haemophilus 
  • Helicobacter Leptospira Listeria

So, what's next? Are we still playing with swords against microbes?

NanoPhos is harnessing nanotechnology achievements to boost the fight against microorganisms. And it’s not just permanent swords developed, but also …high explosive, oxidizing radicals ammunition rounds that explode the microorganism membrane.

SurfaShield MBC technology is based on a unique titaniumIV dioxide nanoparticle suspension, which upon application, anchors permanently on the application substrate. SurfaShield MBS is also armed with silver cations to enhance antiviral performance. SurfaShield MBC/MBS is not a disinfection cleaner: it is a permanent invisible microbe shielding coating. Due to its photocatalytic nature, the resulting permanent coating gets light-activated and produces oxidizing radicals (superoxide and hydroxyl radicals). The produced radicals are highly unstable and readily stabilize by transferring their oxidizing (=burning, exploding) power on the surface of the microorganism. The set of pictures on the left depict “healthy” E. Coli bacteria (left side) and the “exploded” view, after exposure to the devastating action of SurfaShield MBC.

Third-party lab testing has proved that the rate of SurfaShield MBC/MBS microbe killing is 55 CFU per minute per square centimeter (CFU stands for colony-forming unit in microbiology), under the illumination of four tubular, 58W fluorescent lamps. Indicatively, one of the real-life, most contaminated surface areas, i.e., elevator button, counts 313 CFUs per square centimeter; 40 times as many germs as a public toilet seat.

Based on the above, SurfaShield MBC/MBS presents exceptional antimicrobial performance, even in interior light conditions. Nevertheless, the application of SurfaShield MBC/MBS takes place only on clean and disinfected substrates for better surface anchoring and prolonged service time, which can reach even 45 days. After application, substrates can be frequently used, and SurfaShield MBC does not lose its antimicrobial efficacy, even if conventional (non-corrosive) cleaners are used. Abrasion loads that might even harm the substrate should be avoided.

SurfaShield MBS

Continuous Antimicrobial Surface Protection for Up to 6 weeks

Do you want continuous antimicrobial protection for 6 weeks with self-cleaning antimicrobial material with titanium oxide nanoparticles and antiviral activity of silver molecules?