Saturday, 21 October 2017

Smartphone screen technology used to trick harmful bacteria

Conducting plastics found in smartphone screens can be used to trick the metabolism of pathogenic bacteria, report scientists. By adding or removing electrons from the plastic surface, bacteria may be tricked into growing more or less. The method may find widespread use in preventing bacterial infections in hospitals or improve effectiveness in wastewater management.

When bacteria attach to a surface they grow quickly into a thick film known as a biofilm. These biofilms frequently occur in our surroundings but are especially dangerous in hospitals where they can cause life threatening infections. Researchers have now aimed to address this problem by producing coatings for medical devices made from a cheap conducting plastic called PEDOT, which is what makes smartphone screens respond to touch. By applying a small voltage, the PEDOT surface was either flooded with electrons or left almost empty, which in turn affected the growth of Salmonella bacteria.


Salvador Gomez-Carretero, Ben Libberton, Mikael Rhen, Agneta Richter-Dahlfors. Redox-active conducting polymers modulate Salmonella biofilm formation by controlling availability of electron acceptorsnpj Biofilms and Microbiomes, 2017; 3 (1) DOI: 10.1038/s41522-017-0027-0

Posted by Dr. Tim Sandle

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