Engineering & Technology

Virus and Vibrations

The Inquisitive in you:

It is a well-known fact that the yogis of ancient times practised meditational techniques to get rid of diseases and stay healthy. Meditations induce the positive vibrations which are known to kill many of the harmful microorganisms which get into our body. Recent frontiers in technology are exploring the possibility of using external excitations to vibrate a virus to its death.

Can we develop virus-killing vibrations?

The Biologist in you:

The genetic material of virus is DNA/RNA enclosed within the protective protein shell (Capsid). Every cell in human body has a natural tendency to vibrate at frequency known as the natural frequency, and so the virus. Natural frequency values of these vibrations are very high compared to healthy cells, and depend on the molecular structure and differ from virus to virus. For example, lowest natural frequency of HIV: 18 GHz; Hepatitis B: 37 GHz; Ebola: 19 GHz.


The Technologist in you:

Every physical system has a set of natural frequencies at which the system vibrates naturally (Free vibration). Such systems can also be excited by externally applied mechanical vibration (Forced vibration). Resonance occurs when the excitation frequency matches with any of the natural frequencies of the system, and may cause severe damage to the system. A typical example will be an opera singer shattering a wine glass. Here, the sound waves produced by the singer shatter the wine glass due to resonance.

The Bio-Technologist in you:

Protective protein shell (Capsid) of viruses is influenced by mechanical excitations in the form of Ultrasonic Waves, when focused on it. Ultrasonic waves are very high frequency sound waves not audible to human ears. Excitations tuned to the natural frequency of virus shell result in resonance. At resonance, for sufficient wave energy, the protective shell undergoes alternating compression and rarefaction which induce mechanical stress severe enough to shatter the virus shell just like the wine glass. Virus becomes inactive with the destruction of its protective shell. Though there are benefits of this technology over antiviral drugs, the challenges are plenty. Presently, one question looms large before us:

Can this technology be used to stop the menace of novel Coronavirus?

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