New Self-Cleaning Surface Can Repel All Forms Of Bacteria

  • Researchers develop an ultimate non-stick coating that can repel all types of bacteria.
  • It reduces biofilm formation and the transfer of bacteria through an intermediate surface. 
  • It can be easily applied onto various objects such as bed tables, doorknobs, and other high-risk surfaces. 

Bacterial contamination of hospital surfaces has become a major cause of health-care acquired infections, which results in increased use of antibiotic treatments and a substantial cost to the healthcare system.

To suppress this problem, researchers at McMaster University have developed an ultimate non-stick coating that can repel all types of bacteria and prevent the transfer of germs and antibiotic-resistant superbugs.

More specifically, this flexible plastic surface merges a hierarchical wrinkled structure with chemical functionalization to decrease the adhesion, proliferation and spread of bacteria through an intermediate surface.

The coating can be easily applied onto various surfaces in hospitals that are commonly contaminated with bacterial pathogens such as bed tables, rails, doorknobs, and other high-risk surfaces. It can also also be used in food packaging to reduce the accidental transfer of listeria, Salmonella, and E. coli from raw food.

How Effective It Is?

This non-stick coating is inspired by the superhydrophobic surfaces of lotus plants. Its mechanism reflects a great combination of chemistry and nano-scale surface engineering.

Researchers have textured the surface with tiny wrinkles to exclude all external molecules. Thus, it repels the most common liquids (water and blood) and bacteria. And the best thing is that it can be applied to any object.

Reference: American Chemical Society | DOI:10.1021/acsnano.9b06287 | McMaster University 

Surfaces consisting of antibiotics, lubricant-infused layers, a nanostructuring have already been developed to deliver bacterial repellency and antibacterial properties. But unlike the new hierarchical wraps, they are difficult to manufacture at the industrial scale.

Surface can repel bacteria

The team tested these hierarchical wraps using two strong antibiotic-resistant bacteria: Gram negative Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Gram positive methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus. They found that these wraps effectively decreased biofilm formation of these bacterias by 84% and 87%, respectively.

In fact, objects coated with the new self-cleaning surface remain free of bacteria after coming in contact with Gram negative E.coli, a type of bacteria that normally lives in intestines.

The wraps are capable of holding repellent properties under strain and while conforming to different form factors. It is also possible to further improve repellent properties of the surface by treating it chemically, which could ultimately lead to a barrier that is flexible, inexpensive, and durable.

Read: Purple Bacteria Can Convert Wastewater Into Hydrogen Energy

Researchers believe that their technology will be adopted by all kinds of domestic and institutional settings, and will soon become a key part of the anti-bacterial toolbox. For now, they are looking for a commercial partner to build practical applications for the wrap.

Written by
Varun Kumar

Varun Kumar is a professional science and technology journalist and a big fan of AI, machines, and space exploration. He received a Master's degree in computer science from Indraprastha University. To find out about his latest projects, feel free to directly email him at [email protected] 

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