Through a new laser application developed by engineers at Purdue University, it has been discovered that metal surfaces can destroy bacteria. The laser applied to the surface of copper, which has been used in the treatment of bacteria for centuries, turns the copper into a bacteria killer in a very short time.
Diseased bacteria can live on surfaces for days. So what would happen if the surfaces we touched like door handles could kill bacteria instantly? Here engineers from Purdue University have developed a laser application that could potentially turn any metal surface into a ‘bacterial killer’. Engineers create these ‘killer metals’ just by giving a different texture to their surface.
According to the study published in the journal Advanced Materials Interfaces, with its new technique, the copper surface gains the ability to instantly kill bacteria with antibiotic resistance, such as Meticillin Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (MRSA). Rahim Rahimi, who is an assistant professor of material engineering at Purdue, says that copper has been used against microbes for centuries, but underlines that the copper surface can only do the work of killing bacteria under normal conditions.
The technique is not valid for viruses
Noting that they have developed a one-step laser texturing technique, Rahimi notes that they have effectively enriched the bactericidal feature on the copper surface. However, the technique is not yet suitable for killing viruses that are much smaller than bacteria. Rahimi’s team immediately began testing this technique for the surfaces of metals and polymers other than copper. These are used to reduce the risk of bacterial growth and biofilm formation in devices such as orthopedic implants and wearable patches for chronic wounds.
According to the Womb, providing an antimicrobial surface to the implants will prevent the spread of infection and antibiotic resistance because antibiotics will not be required to kill bacteria on the surface of an implant. It is stated that this technique can also be applied to metal alloys with known antimicrobial properties.
Because the surface of metals such as copper is normally smooth, it is difficult for them to kill bacteria by contact. The new technique produced by the uterus and his team creates nanoscale structures on the surface of the metal via laser. These structures produce a rough texture, increasing the surface area of the metal and increasing the chance of bacteria hitting the surface and breaking down immediately. Researchers have previously used various nano-material coatings to enrich the antibacterial properties of metal surfaces, but these coatings may tend to penetrate into the metal and be harmful to the environment.
Laser texturing has a dual effect. The technique increases direct contact, while also making the surface more water absorbent. For orthopedic implants, such a surface allows the binding of bone cells and also improves bone attachment. Rahimi’s team noticed this effect when examining fibroblast cells. It is stated that thanks to its simplicity and scalability, the technique can be easily transformed into medical device manufacturing processes.