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BIOBOARD - ASIA
Dragonfly-inspired nano coating kills bacteria upon contact
Singapore scientists grew nanopilllars of zinc oxide, compound known for its anti-bacterial and non-toxic properties, showed to kill a broad range of germs like E. coli and S. aureus commonly transmitted from surface contact.

Studies have shown that the wings of dragonflies and cicadas prevent bacterial growth due to their natural structure. The surfaces of their wings are covered in nanopillars making them look like a bed of nails. When bacteria come into contact with these surfaces, their cell membranes get ripped apart immediately and they are killed.

This inspired researchers from the Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology (IBN) of A*STAR to invent an anti-bacterial nano coating for disinfecting frequently touched surfaces such as door handles, tables and lift buttons. This technology will prove particularly useful in creating bacteria-free surfaces in places like hospitals and clinics, where sterilization is important to help control the spread of infections. Their new research was recently published in the journal Small.

80 per cent of common infections are spread by hands, according to the B.C. Centre for Disease Control.1 Disinfecting commonly touched surfaces helps to reduce the spread of harmful germs by our hands, but would require manual and repeated disinfection because germs grow rapidly. Current disinfectants may also contain chemicals like triclosan which are not recognized as safe and effective, and may lead to bacterial resistance and environmental contamination if used extensively.

“There is an urgent need for a better way to disinfect surfaces without causing bacterial resistance or harm to the environment,” said IBN Executive Director Professor Jackie Y. Ying.

To tackle this problem, a team of researchers led by IBN Group Leader Dr Yugen Zhang created a novel nano coating that can spontaneously kill bacteria upon contact. Inspired by studies on dragonflies and cicadas, the IBN scientists grew nanopilllars of zinc oxide, a compound known for its anti-bacterial and non-toxic properties. The zinc oxide nanopillars can kill a broad range of germs like E. coli and S. aureus that are commonly transmitted from surface contact.

Tests on ceramic, glass, titanium and zinc surfaces showed that the coating effectively killed up to 99.9 per cent of germs found on the surfaces. As the bacteria are killed mechanically rather than chemically, the use of the nano coating would not contribute to environmental pollution. Also, the bacteria will not be able to develop resistance as they are completely destroyed when their cell walls are pierced by the nanopillars upon contact.

Reference:

  1. Guangshun Yi, Yuan Yuan, Xiukai Li and Yugen Zhang, “ZnO Nanopillar Coated Surfaces with Substrate-Dependent Superbactericidal Property,” Small, (2018) DOI: 10.1002/smll.201703159.

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APBN Editorial Calendar 2018
January:
Obesity / Outlook for 2018
February:
Searching for the fountain of youth
March:
Women in Science - Making a difference
April:
Digestive health in the 21st century - Trust your guts
May:
Dental health - The root to good health
June:
Cancer - Therapies and strategies for better patient outcomes
July:
Water management- Technologies for biotech and pharmaceutical industries
August:
Regenerative medicine / Biotech start ups
September:
Digital healthcare / 3D printing
October:
Bones / Breast cancer
November:
Liver health / Top science research nations & institutions
December:
AIDS / Breakthrough of the year/Emerging trends
Editorial calendar is subjected to changes.
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