Antibacterial Stainless Steel

July 23, 2012

Commercial buildings, restaurants, and hotels are often prime locations for stainless steel use, but disease-causing bacteria have long been an issue. Researchers have created an improved way to provide a layer of antibacterial coating that will disinfect and kill potential threats, notes the American Chemical Society journal Langmuir.

While stainless steel is prized for its durability, resistance to corrosion, and ease of cleaning, it readily collects bacteria over time. The bacteria can form invisible colonies or biofilms – collections of colonies bound tightly to a surface – that harbor disease.

Existing ways of making stainless steel with an antibacterial surface are complicated, expensive, and require the use of potentially toxic chemical substances. The authors sought an easier, greener way to make an antibacterial coating.

They are developing a process for giving stainless steel a coating that kills all E. coli bacteria present within two hours in laboratory tests. It involves applying a layer of a bio-inspired adhesive to the steel.

Four alternating layers of a negatively-charged polymer and positively-charged polymer micelles containing silver-based particles, which are highly bactericidal, are added over the base adhesive.

The process takes only 10 minutes and uses water instead of potentially toxic substances. “This novel water-based approach is convenient, simple, and attractive for industrial applications,” the researchers say.

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