99.7% in just one hour – the new nanocoating kills more bacteria faster

The coating took just one hour to kill 99.7% of a common pathogen called Staphylococcus aureus.

A new copper coating could be the next superbug killer.

A new copper coating that kills bacteria faster and in greater numbers than existing formulations could be available for hospitals and other high-traffic areas in the near future.

Although modern pure copper formulations are antibacterial and self-disinfecting, they kill some forms of bacteria with thicker cell walls (gram-positive bacteria) more slowly than bacteria with thinner cell walls (gram-negative bacteria).

Using nanoscale features that kill zinc and bacteria, a team of researchers at the University of British Columbia led by Dr. Amanda Clifford, associate professor of materials engineering, created a nano-copper coating. The tiny bumps, known as nanoscale features, are capable of killing bacteria by rupturing their cell walls. Unlike pure copper, zinc, which is just as anti-bacterial, is selectively oxidized in the presence of copper and helps kill bacteria more quickly.

“Using our coating can significantly reduce the incidence of bacterial infections from touched healthcare surfaces, such as doorknobs and elevator buttons, because it kills bacteria through multiple approaches,” says Dr. Clifford. “Because it contains less copper than other existing coatings or whole copper parts, it will also be cheaper to manufacture.”

The team found that the material took just one hour to kill 99.7 percent of Staphylococcus aureus — a gram-positive pathogen commonly responsible for hospital-acquired infections — compared to two hours for pure copper.

“Not only does this coating kill pathogens faster than pure copper, but it also helps ensure that antibiotics remain effective,” Dr. Clifford said. “Using this new formulation, we kill pathogens before patients become infected and need antibiotics, slowing the growth of antibiotic resistance.”

The researchers have filed a preliminary patent for the coating and fabrication process, which is described in a new paper in Advanced material interfaces.

“Currently, it’s for hospitals and healthcare facilities because antibiotic-resistant pathogens like methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) are a problem in those places. We also don’t want to be in a place where we can’t use antibiotics,” says Dr. Clifford.

The team plans to further evaluate the material against other pathogens, such as viruses, with the hope of eventually commercializing their work.

Reference: “An Engineered Nanocomposite Copper Coating with Enhanced Antibacterial Efficacy” by Dawood Nahai, Teresa C. Williams, Billy Vellapattino, Elizabeth A. Bryce, Martha C. Charles, Eduardo Asselin, and Amanda M. Clifford, July 21, 2022. Advanced material interfaces.
DOI: 10.1002/admi.202201009

The work is funded in partnership with Teck Resources Limited, which has installed copper surfaces on high-contact surfaces in UBC’s Faculty of Applied Science buildings through its Copper & Health program. 99.7% in just one hour – the new nanocoating kills more bacteria faster

Back to top button