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article imageNew surface kills bacteria, even in the dark

By Tim Sandle     Mar 26, 2014 in Science
A research group has developed a first light-activated antimicrobial surface that can kill pathogenic bacteria even in the dark. It is hoped that the use of the surface will reduce hospital acquired infections.
The surface involves the combination of two simple dyes that have been combined with nanoscopic particles of gold. Gold is deadly to bacteria when activated by light. This happens even under modest indoor lighting. Researchers have gone a step further by modifying the process so that the lethal effect of the gold works in the dark.
There are certain dyes that are known to be harmful to bacteria when subjected to bright light. The light excites electrons in them, promoting the dye molecules to an excited triplet state and ultimately produces highly reactive oxygen radicals that damage bacteria cell walls.
The final process, the research brief indicates, used the dyes crystal violet, methylene blue and nanogold, deposited on the surface of silicone.
Studies showed that when the surface was contaminated with high numbers of different bacteria and when the surface was then placed under a normal fluorescent light bulb, the entire microbial challenge was dead in three to six hours, depending on the type of bacteria. Although the effects were strongest under light, the process of killing bacteria continued in the dark.
The research was led by Ivan Parkin, who is based at University College London. The findings have been published in the journal Chemical Science. The paper is titled “Light-activated antimicrobial surfaces with enhanced efficacy induced by a dark-activated mechanism.”
More about Bacteria, Hospital, Surface, Antimicrobial, Pathogen
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