30 Apr 2021
Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is largely threatening global public health, social stability, and economy. Efforts of the scientific community are turning to this global crisis and should present future preventative measures. With recent trends in polymer science that use plasma to activate and enhance the functionalities of polymer surfaces by surface etching, surface grafting, coating and activation combined with recent advances in understanding polymer-virus interactions at the nanoscale, it is promising to employ advanced plasma processing for smart antiviral applications. This trend article highlights the innovative and emerging directions and approaches in plasma-based surface engineering to create antiviral polymers. After introducing the unique features of plasma processing of polymers, novel plasma strategies that can be applied to engineer polymers with antiviral properties are presented and critically evaluated. The challenges and future perspectives of exploiting the unique plasma-specific effects to engineer smart polymers with virus-capture, virus-detection, virus-repelling, and/or virus-inactivation functionalities for biomedical applications are analysed and discussed.