Wouldn’t it be great if there was clothing out there that could fully protect us from mosquito bites? This could reduce itching and the spread of mosquito-borne diseases. To find out, we tested whether a super thin but really strong substance, graphene, has the potential to make clothing mosquito proof. In a lab experiment, we exposed humans wearing a) no protection or b) cheesecloth or c) cheesecloth plus graphene to mosquitoes.
And we found that the graphene indeed kept mosquitoes from biting people. We were surprised to realize that it not only acted as a physical barrier for the insects’ mouthparts but also blocked important chemical signals that mosquitoes use to detect humans. Under dry conditions, our graphene layer, therefore, showed double potential for protection. However, sweat or water made it less mosquito-proof. But we found a modified form, “reduced graphene”, that protected humans even when it was wet.