Five applied research projects of the University of Tartu to address coronavirus-related problems
Five new applied research projects are about to start at the University of Tartu with the aim to study and develop materials and surface treatment agents inhibiting the transmission of the virus, technological solutions for reducing virus particles in indoor air, and automated solutions reducing the workload in the healthcare sector.
Materials inhibiting the spread of the virus
A group of researchers of the Institute of Physics, the Institute of Technology, and the Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology of the University of Tartu, led by Professor in Genetics Angela Ivask, are going to create a universal treatment method to achieve an antiviral effect on porous and hard-to-clean surfaces, for example, on textile or pillow down. The treatment method is based on applying colloidal particles to the porous surface so as to achieve antiviral properties for as long as possible.
Better materials to capture virus particles from indoor air
A research group led by Professor of Physical Chemistry Enn Lust will explore how the use of materials activated by nanoclusters of copper, copper alloys and silver in air filters helps to extend filter life and inhibit the spread of virus particles in rooms. The goal of the project is to enhance the virus-binding or virus-killing properties of materials used in respirators and filtration systems and find ways to recover and reuse these materials.
Senior Research Fellow of Plasma Technology Indrek Jõgi researches plasma technology-based solutions to remove respiratory viruses from internal air. His project helps to find the optimum solution suitable for the treatment of indoor or ventilation air. The research also enables to simplify the maintenance of air purification systems that are based on filters currently in use.
Hospital robots and improved quality of collecting health data
The Covid-19 pandemic caused a particularly great increase in workload in the healthcare sector. Therefore, several studies aim to develop technological solutions for the automation of healthcare services and processes.
The project led by Associate Professor of Collaborative Robotics Arun Kumar Singh starts to work out autonomous mobile robots that help to reduce the workload of healthcare professionals during virus outbreaks, minimising the contact between staff and patients and thereby lowering the risk of infection. In the course of the project, the group works out sensing, control and human-robot interaction technologies that can be used in various areas, for example, for moving and transporting objects, and in elderly care.
The research group led by Associate Professor of Family Medicine Kadri Suija is going to develop a prototype patient questionnaire and a standard medical document based on the example of the Covid-19 questionnaire. Through the automation of processes, the resulting patient questionnaire service will reduce the workload of healthcare professionals and improve the quality of recording health data and the interoperability of databases. The project will be conducted by the Institute of Family Medicine and Public Health of the University of Tartu in collaboration with the Society of Family Doctors of Estonia, and the health technologies company Synbase.
All the starting research projects are supported by the Estonian Research Council target grants that are funded from the state budget. The target grants aim to support the rapid implementation of research results. The total budget of the new target grant projects at the University of Tartu is one million euros. These applied research studies will reach results by the end of the next year.
Angela Ivask, Professor in Genetics, University of Tartu, angela.ivask [ät] ut.ee
Enn Lust, Professor of Physical Chemistry, University of Tartu, member of Estonian Academy of Sciences, enn.lust [ät] ut.ee
Indrek Jõgi, Senior Research Fellow of Plasma Technology, University of Tartu, indrek.jogi [ät] ut.ee
Arun Kumar Singh, Associate Professor of Collaborative Robotics, University of Tartu, arun.singh [ät] ut.ee
Kadri Suija, Associate Professor of Family Medicine, University of Tartu, kadri.suija [ät] ut.ee