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Researchers Develop Anti-Microbial Coatings to Protect Surfaces & Textiles from Biofilms

June 11, 2014

Researchers at the INM have produced antimicrobial abrasion-resistant coatings with a long-term effect that kill germs reliably and at the same time prevent germs becoming established.

Hygienic conditions and sterile procedures are particularly important in hospitals, kitchens and sanitary facilities, air conditioning and ventilation systems, in food preparation and in the manufacture of packaging material. In these areas, bacteria and fungi compromise the health of both consumers and patients. Researchers at the INM have now produced antimicrobial abrasion-resistant coatings with both silver and copper colloids with a long-term effect that kill germs reliably and at the same time prevent germs becoming established. The coatings are particularly suitable for the application on large and solid surfaces, on door handles and for textiles.

The researchers of the INM presented new developments of transparent and conducting layers, CIGS solar cells, coatings against corrosion and for the reduction of friction as well as printed electronics in the context of the leading trade fair for R & D and Technology Transfer.

"The new development combines two properties which means the presence of germs and fungi on these surfaces is zero", explained Carsten Becker-Willinger, Head of the Nanomers Program Division. Silver or copper colloids which gradually release germicidal metal ions into the environment are incorporated in the coating. "The metal colloids are only a few nanometers in size, but their particular ratio of size to surface area produces a distinctive long-term effect. The "consumption" of metals to metal ions is then so low that the coating can be effective for several years", says the chemist. The long-term effect will also be increased by the high abrasion resistance.

At the same time, the surface of the coating is anti-adhesive, so neither dead nor fresh germs can adhere to the surface. As a result, the coating primarily counteracts the formation of an extensive biofilm.

The researchers were able to prove the double microbicidal and biofilm-inhibiting action using the standardized ASTM E2 180 test process. The new material can be applied to a variety of substrates such as plastic, ceramic or metal using conventional techniques such as spraying or dipping, and cures thermally or photochemically. Selective variation of the individual components allows the developers to react to the particular and different needs of potential users.

As part of the EU-sponsored CuVito project, the developers are now looking at increasingly using copper colloids and copper ions as well as silver which they hope will open up other fields of application.

The INM also presented its competence within various talks at the Tech transfer stand.

    Nanotechnology at the INM – Leibniz Institute for New Materials", Dr. Mario Quilitz.
    Nanotechnology in the Leibniz Network Nano", Dr. Mario Quilitz.
    Nanoparticles for Optics and Electronics", Dr. Peter William de Oliveira.
    Nanomers – Highly structured integrated functional coatings for practical solutions in industrial applications", Dr. Carsten Becker-Willinger.

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