Hong Kong’s New Smart Anti-Microbial Coating



Researchers at The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) have developed a new multi-level anti-microbial polymer coating that kills a wide range of bacteria, hard-to-kill spores, and inactivates 99.9% of highly-infectious viruses, including the Omicron variant that has caused a worldwide outbreak of Covid-19 cases in recent months.

This new technology, known as MAP-, has been proven to last at least five years on a variety of materials and surfaces, based on accelerated aging tests conducted in compliance with relevant standards for disinfection, disinfectant, medical devices, and cards published by the Mainland Chinese and Australian authorities, American Society for Microbiology, and other independent tests conducted in France and the UK. SARS-CoV-2 and its Omicron strain are both resistant to materials coated with MAP.


MAP- is an upgraded version of MAP-1, one of the first lasting anti-microbial coatings co-developed and commercialized with a Hong Kong-based product manufacturing company against the coronavirus at the onslaught of the Covid-19 pandemic in early 2020. It was invented by a team led by Prof. YEUNG King-Lun, a Professor at the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering, and the Division of Environment and Sustainability at HKUST.


The original coating was quickly adopted by a wide range of facilities in Hong Kong and abroad, including hospitals, clinics, care homes, schools, public transportation, shopping malls, restaurants, and public venues. It was initially effective for up to three months and eventually six months after each application. It was also used on the Hong Kong Olympic athletes’ apparel and equipment for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.


The Under Secretary for Innovation and Technology remarked during a media briefing on the coating that cooperation between the government, industry, academia and research institutes has been supported all along. The new smart anti-microbial coating developed by HKUST finest exemplifies the synergy established by university-private-sector collaboration and aids in the commercialization of R&D results.


HKUST and the corporation were acknowledged by the Under Secretary for Innovation and Technology for their support and contributions to Hong Kong’s I&T development. He also urged everyone to collaborate in order to give the Hong Kong I&T industry a boost.


We knew that like it or not, the world would have to discover a more sustainable strategy to cope with the SARS-Cov-2 virus, so the team devised a new formula for this long-lasting coating. Anti-microbial functionality, like tap water disinfection, will undoubtedly become a common element of future consumer devices. MAP- was created to help meet this growing need while also better protecting the general public.


With its anti-adhesion and self-cleaning capabilities, the coating kills bacteria on contact and prevents surface contamination. The new version, like MAP-1, has been determined to be non-toxic to animals and the environment by the National Health Commission of Mainland China’s Technical Standard for Disinfection. It comes in a variety of finishes, including a high-gloss permanent surface finish, a high optical-transparent finish, and an ultra-durable protective coating for a variety of uses.


The HK-based product producer, which in 2018 created a joint laboratory on environmental health technologies with HKUST, is now in talks with several industrial partners about using MAP- on public buses, elevators, aged care homes, optical lenses, and credit cards, and passenger aircraft. The coating can also be used on frequently handled goods like doorknobs, smartphone screens, remote controllers, purses, and architectural materials like imitation marble and wallpaper, without affecting their texture or look. The Innovation and Technology Commission has been a strong supporter of the joint lab’s research and applications since its inception, granting about HK$4 million in financing.