Thursday, 19 December 2013

New generation of biocides

A new generation of antibacterial materials have been developed. These are synthetic materials covered in nano-spikes resembling those found on insect wings. The material is an effective killer of microorganisms.
As reported in the Scientist, the material is a type of black silicon. The synthetic material is studded with needle-shaped nanostructures which serve as a potent antibacterial agent. Test have shown that the material can kill some 450,000 cells per minute in just one square centimeter.
Remarkably, what has been shown is that certain nanostructures can kill bacteria based on texture alone. The particles physically distort the microbial cell wall and break open the cell, thereby killing the microorganism.
The idea for the material, Sci News notes, came about after researchers recognized that dragonflies (Diplacodes bipunctata) also have similar nanopillars on their wings, and that black silicon was known for a similar nano-texture. The material is manufactured using bespoke ion-beam technology.
The importance of the new material is that it is potentially transferable to any material or fabric, and thus it has a great potential application in hospitals. A key advantage is that, unlike antibiotics, it would be far more difficult for bacteria to evolve structural resistance to black silicon.
The research was led by Elena Ivanova of Swinburne University of Technology in Australia, and the findings have been published in the journal Nature Communications. The article is titled "Bactericidal activity of black silicon".

Posted by Tim Sandle