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The Nanowave Air Is Helping Nursing Homes, Dentists Protect Staff And Patients From COVID-19


A portable, pod-shaped device is helping nursing homes, dentist offices and others to protect patients and residents from the coronavirus. The Nanowave Air, developed by Cheswick, Pa.-based Dynamics, is reportedly the first device of its kind.

Air is pulled in through one side of the device, zapped with intense UV-C light which inactivates the SARS-CoV-2 virus, and blown out the other side of the device.

Dynamics, a company most known for creating smart credit cards, took their expertise in flexible microelectronics and applied it to creating the first fully flexible UV-C lamp to provide ultra-high UV-C radiation within the Nanowave Air.

CEO Jeff Mullen said the company already had robots applying the intense level of UV light to make their other products flexible. They leveraged that technology in developing the device which launched in November.

"Dynamics has created one of the first viable tools for inactivating the COVID-19 virus," said Elias Towe, a professor of Materials Science and Engineering at Carnegie Mellon University. "What is remarkable is that Dynamics modified some of their unique know-how in flexible microelectronic techniques and merged these with emerging UV-C light technologies to produce intensities sufficient to inactivate the virus."

Towe explained that the level of intense UV-C light produced by the Nanowave Air is what makes it capable of deactivating the SARS-CoV-2 virus. “It basically disrupts the genetic material,” which prevents the virus from reproducing, said Towe.

The device employs high-performance motors that pull air into the chamber at up to 300 liters per minute. This speed makes the Nanowave Air capable of inactivating viruses and bacteria in under two milliseconds. Inactivated air can be pushed about 11 feet from the device, preventing it from reentering it according to Mullen.

The Nanowave Air has been tested at several labs in the National Institute of Allergens and Infectious Diseases Biodefense Laboratory Network. Mullen said all UV-C is contained in the device so there is no worry about exposure for its users.  

Presbyterian SeniorCare Network, Western Pennsylvania’s largest aging services provider, purchased two Nanowave Airs shortly after the product launched in November.

“We’re pleased to have been able to collaborate early with Dynamics in our ongoing pursuit of new technologies and evidence-based practices that can heighten our precautionary and infection control measures, especially during this pandemic,” Susan Dachille, registered nurse and Presbyterian SeniorCare Network’s COVID-19 task force leader, said in a statement.

“We decided to use the Nanowave devices in the breakrooms, since it’s the one area where masking cannot be 100% of the time,” said Dachille.

Presbyterian SeniorCare has since purchased nine additional devices to install in other facilities. Citing the Nanowave Air’s portability, Dachille said the devices would be used at different places depending on need.

The device is also being used at Natrona Heights dentist Dr. William Young’s office, where patients can’t wear masks for the duration of their appointments. “While the person’s sitting in that chair with their mask removed, you can point the Nanowave Air towards them,” said Mullen.

“You can use this to provide continuously inactivated air for that person,” he said.

While it’s currently in use in nursing homes, dentist offices and St. Clair Hospital, Mullen said the device has many more potential applications. He said he could imagine the Nanowave Air in office spaces, elevators, public bathrooms and even people's homes.

The device retails for $3,450 and comes with a carrying case, tripod and power supply. Dynamics signed a deal with Concordance Healthcare Solutions last week to distribute the Nanowave Air nationally.

Kiley Koscinski covers city government, policy and how Pittsburghers engage with city services. She also works as a fill-in host for All Things Considered. Kiley has previously served as a producer on The Confluence and Morning Edition.