New antimicrobial coatings for bacteria-free surfaces

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 (Image: Pixabay CC0)
(Image: Pixabay CC0)
Preventing the transmission of microbial infections is a global issue. This is especially true in environments where bacteria are easily transmitted through contact with contaminated surfaces. A research team led by the University of Freiburg has developed an antimicrobial coating that reduces the bacterial population by a factor of up to 10,000 within minutes.

Self-disinfecting coatings used to modify surfaces can be applied by spray or immersion. They contain components that become active only on the surface. They eliminate bacteria after a few minutes of contact, thus reducing their transmission. This coating was developed in collaboration with the University Hospital of Zurich and the industrial partner Livinguard Technologies AG, on surfaces made of cotton (clothing), nitrile rubber (protective gloves) and glass (tables, screens). It was then tested in the laboratory.

Fighting the spread of infectious diseases
The antimicrobial activity of the surfaces coated in the study showed a reduction in the bacterial population by a factor of up to 10,000 in less than 5 minutes. The range of compatible materials and their rapid bactericidal action help to control the surface transmission of bacteria and limit the spread of infectious diseases. The antimicrobial action of the coating is based primarily on the charge interactions between the highly positively charged polymer film applied to the surface and the negatively charged bacteria membrane.

Great interest from industry
The sustainable synthesis of these coatings under ambient conditions, without toxic solvents, is currently being integrated into industrial processes," explains study leader Stefan Salentinig of the University of Freiburg’s Department of Chemistry. The coatings can be used on a wide range of surfaces, in hospitals and elsewhere, to prevent the transmission of bacterial infections.’ The project, financially supported by the Swiss Innovation Promotion Agency Innosuisse and the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF), has resulted in a patent application and a publication in the journal Advanced Materials Interfaces. This innovation has met with great interest from professionals in the health, hygiene and household appliance sectors.

> Watts S, Gontsarik M, Lassenberger A, Valentin J, Wolfensberger A, Brugger S, Zabara M, Pronk W, Salentinig S: Scalable Synthesis of Self-Disinfecting Polycationic Coatings for Hospital Relevant Surfaces