New antimicrobial coatings for bacteria-free surfaces

Preventing the transmission of microbial infections is a global challenge, particularly in settings where bacteria can be easily transmitted through contact with contaminated surfaces. A nationwide research team led by the University of Fribourg has developed an antimicrobial coating that reduces the bacterial populations by up to 10,000-fold within minutes.

The self-disinfecting coatings that can be used to post-modify surfaces can be applied by spraying or via dipping processes. They are based on ingredients that are only active on the surface. There, they kill bacteria within minutes of contact and thus reduce their transmission. The coating was developed in a sustainable process together with the University Hospital Zurich and the industrial partner Livinguard Technologies AG on cotton (clothing), nitrile rubber (protective gloves) and glass surfaces (tables, screens) and tested under laboratory conditions.

Combating the spread of infectious diseases
The antimicrobial activity of the coated surfaces in the study shows up to 10,000-fold reduction in bacterial populations in less than 5 minutes. The range of compatible materials and their rapid bactericidal action can combat surface transmission of bacteria and may help to contain the spread of infectious diseases. The antimicrobial effect of the coating is mainly based on charge interactions between a strongly positively charged polymer film on the surface and the negatively charged bacterial membrane.

Strong Interest from Industry
Head of research Prof. Stefan Salentinig from the Department of Chemistry at the University of Fribourg comments: "The sustainable synthesis of these coatings under environmental conditions, without toxic solvents, is currently being integrated into industrial processes. The coatings can be used on a wide variety of surfaces, both in and out of hospital settings, to prevent the transmission of bacterial infections." The project, financially supported by the Swiss Innovation Agency INNOSUISSE and the Swiss National Science Foundation, has been filed for patent and published in the journal Advanced Materials Interfaces. Shortly after publication, it is already meeting with strong interest from manufacturers in the medical, hygiene and household industries.

> 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