With health risks associated with some commercially available sunscreen lotions coming to the fore, scientists have now turned to components found in algae in a bid to provide natural options.
The researchers used algae's natural sunscreen molecules, which can also be found in reef fish mucus and microorganisms, and combined them with chitosan, a biopolymer from crustacean shells.
Testing showed their materials were biocompatible, stood up well in heat and light, and absorbed both ultraviolet A and ultraviolet B radiation with high efficiency.
"Inspired by the strategy developed by fish, algae, and microorganisms exposed to UV radiations in confined ecosystems, we have constructed novel UV-protective materials that exclusively consist of natural compounds,” the study said.
The research by Vincent Bulone from Royal Institute of Technology (KTH) in Stockholm, Sweden, and colleagues may lead to novel kind of shield against the sun's rays that could protect not only people, but also textiles and outdoor materials.
Existing sunblock lotions typically work by either absorbing ultraviolet rays or physically blocking them.
Most commercial options have limited efficiency, pose risks to the environment and human health or are not stable, the study said.
The findings were detailed in the journal ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces.