Surface Film Repels All Bacteria
A self-cleaning surface created by researchers at McMaster University repels bacteria; it would be ideal for hospitals, since it would prevent the easy transfer of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
The new plastic surface – a treated form of conventional transparent wrap – can be shrink-wrapped onto door handles, railings, IV stands and other surfaces that can be magnets for bacteria such as MRSA and C. difficile.
The treated material is also ideal for food packaging, where it could stop the accidental transfer of bacteria such as E. coli, Salmonella and listeria from raw chicken, meat and other foods, as described in a paper published today by the journal ACS Nano.
The research was led by engineers Leyla Soleymani and Tohid Didar, who collaborated with colleagues from McMaster’s Institute for Infectious Disease Research and the McMaster-based Canadian Centre for Electron Microscopy.
Their co-authors on the paper include Sara M. Imani, Roderick Maclachlan, Kenneth Rachwalski, Yuting Chan, Bryan Lee, Mark McInnes, Kathryn Grandfield and Eric D. Brown.
Inspired by the water-repellent lotus leaf, the new surface works through a combination of nano-scale surface engineering and chemistry. The surface is textured with microscopic wrinkles that exclude all external molecules. A drop of water or blood, for example, simply bounces away when it lands on the surface. The same is true for bacteria.
Science fiction fans who follow Neal Stephenson recall this idea from his 1995 book The Diamond Age:
Most gentlemen's and ladies' gloves nowadays were constructed of infinitesimal fabricules that knew how to eject dirt; you could thrust your gloved hand into mud, and it would be white a few seconds later.
(Read more about Neal Stephenson's fabricules)
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