A methodology for remote microwave sterilization applicable to the coronavirus and other pathogens using retrodirective antenna arrays

Kossenas, Konstantinos and Podilchak, Symon K. and Comite, Davide and Hilario Re, Pascual D. and Goussetis, George and Pavuluri, Sumanth K. and Griffiths, Samantha and Chadwick, Robert J. and Guo, Chao and Bruns, Nico and Tait-Burkard, Christine and Haas, Jüergen G. and Desmulliez, Marc P.Y. (2022) A methodology for remote microwave sterilization applicable to the coronavirus and other pathogens using retrodirective antenna arrays. IEEE Journal of Electromagnetics, RF and Microwaves in Medicine and Biology, 6 (1). pp. 41-51. ISSN 2469-7249 (https://doi.org/10.1109/JERM.2021.3077110)

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This paper describes an innovative remote surface sterilization approach applicable to the new coronavirus, severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). The process is based on the application of a liquid film on the surface or object under sterilization (OUS). A beacon signal is used to self-steer the transmitted power from the designed retrodirective antenna array (RDA) towards the OUS using circularly polarized fields; then, the sterilization is completed by raising and maintaining the required temperature for a certain time. Results suggest that the process takes 5 minutes or less for an angular coverage range over 60 degrees whilst abiding by the relevant safety protocols. This paper also models the power incident onto the OUS, providing consistent results with full-wave simulations. A practical RDA system is developed using a 2 × 1 microstrip patch array operating at 2.5 GHz and tested through the positioning of a representative target surface. Measurements, developed by sampling the power transmitted by the heterodyne RDA, are reported for various distances and angles, operating in the near-field of the system. To further validate the methodology, an additional experiment investigating virus deactivation through microwave heating was also developed. Measurements have been performed with an open cavity microwave oven on the Coronavirus (strain 229E) and egg white protein in a cuvette. This demonstrates that the temperature increases of aqueous films up to 70 $^{\circ }$C by remote microwave-induced heat can denature proteins and deactivate viruses. Possible applications of the method include sterilization of ambulances, medical equipment, and internet of things (IoT) devices.