Scientists developed a composite material from antibacterial copper nanoparticles, according to a study conducted on February 15, 2018.
This study was conducted by material scientists at the University of Manchester by collaborating with universities in China. They have also developed a method to bind the composite to wearable materials such as cotton and polyester, which has proved a stumbling block for scientists in the past.
A major issue found in hospitals across the UK is bacterial infection and has been increasing due to its spread on surfaces and clothing. E. coli infections alone killed more than 5,500 NHS patients in 2015 and Government estimates put the cost of such infections to the NHS at £2.3 billion this year alone. Although precious metals such as gold and silver have excellent antibacterial and antimicrobial properties, they cannot be used in textiles due to high costs. Then, a better choice for the researchers is copper.
Earlier, this method had some limitation and copper could not be bound to the textiles. However, now, by using a process called as polymer surface grafting, researchers have tethered copper nanoparticles to cotton and polyester using a polymer brush, creating a strong chemical bond. The researchers say it is this bond, which has led to excellent washable properties and durability. The copper nanoparticles were tested on cotton and polyester, and researchers observed that both the fabrics exhibited excellent antibacterial resistance against Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus) and E. coli, even after being washed 30 times.
Dr. Xuqing Liu, lead author said, “These results are very positive and some companies are already showing interest in developing this technology. We hope we can commercialize the advanced technology within a couple of years. We have now started to work on reducing cost and making the process even simpler.”