Taking inspriation from animals like dolphins and pilot whales that are known to have anti-fouling skins, researchers from A*STAR's Industrial Consortium On Nanoimprint (ICON) are using nanotechnology to create synthetic, chemical-free, anti-bacterial surfaces. The surfaces can reduce infections caused by pathogens such as S. aureus and E. coli and can be used on common plastics, medical devices, lenses and even ship hulls.
Conventional methods for preventing bacterial surface attachment may use potentially harmful metal ions, nanoparticles, chemicals or UV-radiation.
Nanoimprint technology, a form of nanotechnology, is a simple technique that has been developed by IMRE to make complex nanometer-sized patterns on surfaces to mimic the texture of natural surfaces. This gives the engineered material 'natural' properties such as luminescence, adhesiveness, water-proofing and anti-reflectivity.
The anti-bacterial surfaces research is ICON's second industry-themed project and will involve A*STAR's Institute of Materials Research and Engineering (IMRE) and companies like Nypro Inc (USA), Hoya Corporation (Japan), Advanced Technologies and Regenerative Medicine, LLC (ATRM) (USA), NIL Technology ApS (Denmark) and Akzo Nobel (UK).
"With millions of years of experience behind her, nature has produced some of the most rugged, adaptable life forms. Who better to learn engineering from than Mother Nature?," said Dr Low Hong Yee, IMRE's Director for Research and Innovation and head of the consortium. She added that the anti-microbial surfaces project will demonstrate the versatility of nanoimprinting technology and its benefits to a wide range of industries.
"Chemical additives in biomedical devices can adversely affect different users in different ways. The anti-microbial surfaces derived from nanoimprint technology without the need for additional chemicals and coatings may offer us an alternative solution to this issue," said Mr Tsuyoshi Watanabe, General Manager, R&D Center of Hoya Corporation, a Japanese-based company dealing in advanced electronics and optics technologies. The company has a plant in Singapore producing implanted lenses for the eye.
The above story is based on materials provided by Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR), Singapore. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.
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