Science

Scientists create ‘self-cleaning surface that repels superbugs'

The new plastic surface could be used in a range of settings including hospitals and kitchens, researchers say.

A self-cleaning surface that can repel all forms of bacteria and prevent the transfer of superbugs has been developed, scientists said.

The new plastic surface, which could be used in a range of settings including hospitals and kitchens, is a treated form of conventional transparent wrap.

It can be shrink-wrapped on door handles, railings, IV stands and other areas that can be magnets for bacteria such as MRSA and C. difficile, scientists say.

The material is also ideal for food packaging, where it could stop the accidental transfer of bacteria such as E. coli, salmonella and listeria, according to a study published in the journal ACS Nano.

McMaster researcher Leyla Soleymani (Georgia Kirkos, McMaster University/PA)

Inspired by the water-repellent lotus leaf, the new surface works through a combination of nano-scale surface engineering and chemistry.

It is textured with microscopic wrinkles that exclude all external molecules.

For example, a drop of water or blood simply bounces off when it lands on the surface, and the same is true for bacteria.

The research was led by engineers Leyla Soleymani and Tohid Didar, who collaborated with colleagues from McMaster’s Institute for Infectious Disease Research and the McMaster-based Canadian Centre for Electron Microscopy.

Dr Soleymani said: “We’re structurally tuning that plastic.

“This material gives us something that can be applied to all kinds of things.”

Dr Didar added: “We can see this technology being used in all kinds of institutional and domestic settings.

“As the world confronts the crisis of antimicrobial resistance, we hope it will become an important part of the antibacterial toolbox.”

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Science