Antibacterial paints, inks, varnishes from Institute of Physics PAS

Credit: Adobe Stock
Credit: Adobe Stock

Researchers from the Institute of Physics of the Polish Academy of Sciences have developed a method to give paints, inks and varnishes antibacterial properties. As a result, banknotes, prescriptions, handrails, tables, floors and walls in clinics and hospitals can become 'inhospitable' for dangerous microbes.

As antibiotics cease to be a reliable weapon in the fight against bacteria, and antibiotic resistance is a growing problem, scientists are looking for other ways to limit human contact with dangerous bacteria.

Dr. Jarosław Kaszewski from the Institute of Physics of the Polish Academy of Sciences told PAP: “We have developed a technology for modifying paints, varnishes, inks and enamels that inhibits the proliferation of bacterial colonies on surfaces. If you cover the surface of a table or bus hand rail with such paint, the risk of transmitting dangerous bacteria is reduced.” He added that antibacterial inks - including also colourless ones - could be used to cover the surface of prescriptions, posters or even banknotes.

Currently available antibacterial paints usually contain silver nanoparticles, which says Kaszewski “makes them a threat to human health and ecosystems. For ecological reasons, the use of such paints is hardly justified.”

Meanwhile, the solution of the Polish team uses nanoparticles of oxides of group 4 elements. Dr. Kaszewski said that such oxides are well-known compounds, their presence in nature - and in the human body - has already been tested and there are no indications that they can be toxic. 

He said: “Nanoparticles of such oxides are even found in food, but we do not digest them.

“We have developed a method to give these nanoparticles the right shape. As a result, we can combine them with polymers with which they would not normally combine.

“Our solution allows to introduce antibacterial properties, for example, into paint at any stage of its production. Antibacterial properties can therefore be given to already available paints, varnishes or inks from various manufacturers.”

According to Kaszewski, the optical properties of paints and inks will not change because pf the nanoparticles (the colour of the material will not change). The antibacterial surface will be resistant to abrasion.

The modified paints have been tested in microbiological laboratories, so far on nine strains of bacteria, but not all strains reacted identically. Kaszewski said: “It is important, however, that our coatings inhibit the proliferation of dangerous hospital bacteria, including Pseudomonas aeruginosa.

He added that if there are investors, it will be possible to work on improving these solutions - for example, there is an idea for using nanoparticles with antibacterial properties in 3D printing.

PAP - Science in Poland, Ludwika Tomala

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