CHICAGO - You can now arm your cellphone against coronavirus with a new invention by three Chicagoans.
Recent Vanderbilt University grads Isaac Lichter, Nick O’Brien and Andrew Medland were in quarantine when they came up with the idea. Two of the men had been diagnosed with COVID.
"One night I was just scrolling through the newsfeed on my phone and came across an article titled 'copper kills coronavirus,'" said Lichter.
The group started digging and then put their research to work.
"As a project that started in a garage that basically started with a Home Depot trip and hammers, it's gone great," said Medland.
They created a cellphone case, coated in a layer of copper, that literally kills germs, including the coronavirus.
"When a germ or bacteria comes into contact with a copper surface...the germ starts accepting small amounts of copper as a nutrient into itself and then very rapidly that copper dose becomes lethal," explained O'Brien.
Copper can be an expensive metal, but the trio determined how little was needed to maintain coronavirus-killing capabilities.
"You don't have to clean it, it's not like the genie's lamp, you don't have to rub it three times, it just does its job," said Medland.
They founded a company called Aeris, which is Greek for "copper". But they're not done yet. They also formulated a copper coating that can be used on multiple surfaces.
"We are undergoing a trial in Canada with the large public transit system on the buses and subways, where we are actually testing the effects of copper surfaces on the handrails," said O'Brien.
They hope to one day work with the CTA and Metra as well.
The phone cases are $39 online. For every purchase, they donate a phone case to a medical worker. You can find the cases at aeris.one.