The team hopes that the material could also be used against other pathogens, such as viruses, and that their work could eventually be commercialized. If it gains approval for mass production, it could revolutionize our approach to healthcare.
Instead of constantly disinfecting surfaces, we can rest assured that these areas are naturally free of bacteria and viruses. This is particularly soothing in the post-COVID era, although the researchers did not specify whether their invention also works on the coronavirus.
It looks like we’ll have to wait and see what other uses the team finds for their new gear. The study has been published in Advanced Material Interfaces.
Contaminated surfaces are a major source of nosocomial infection. To reduce the microbial load and the transmission of infectious diseases through surfaces, the use of antibacterial and self-disinfecting surfaces, such as copper (Cu), is being studied in clinical settings. Cu has long been known to have antimicrobial activity. However, Gram-positive microorganisms, a class that includes pathogens commonly responsible for nosocomial infections such as Staphylococcus aureus and Clostridioides difficile, are more resistant to its biocidal effect. Inspired by inherently bactericidal nanostructured surfaces found in nature, an improved Cu coating is developed, designed to contain nanoscale surface characteristics and thus increase its antibacterial activity against a wider range of organisms. In addition, a new method is established to facilitate the rapid and continuous release of biocidal metal ions from the coating, thanks to the incorporation of an antibacterial metal salt (ZnCl2) with a reduction potential lower than that of Cu. Electrophoretic deposition (EPD) is used to fabricate these coatings, which provide an inexpensive and scalable way to modify existing conductive surfaces of complex shape. By adjusting both the morphology and the chemistry of the surface, a Cu nanocomposite coating is created that decreases the microbial load of Gram-positive S. aureus by 94% compared to unmodified Cu.