Researchers at The City College of New York (CCNY) and Rice University have developed an environmentally friendly technique for embedding antimicrobial silver nanoparticles into vegetable oil-based paints.
Silver’s antibacterial properties have been known for thousands of years, and silver nanoparticles offer superior antibacterial activity while being non-toxic. However, coatings containing antimicrobial agents have failed commercially in the past due to their complex, multi-step preparation methods and high cost of production.
Now, however, the CCNY/Rice team has been able to synthesise metal nanoparticles in common household paints in situ without using hazardous reagents and solvents.
‘The simplicity of the process and economics should allow us to commercialise these paints as a versatile coating material for health and environmental applications,’ said Dr Pulickel M. Ajayan, Prof of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science at Houston-based Rice University.
‘Using the same approach we should be able to produce a large variety of nano-particle dispersions useful in applications ranging from healthcare to catalysis,’ added Dr Ashavani Kumar, a postdoctoral research associate at Rice.
The coating exhibited efficient antibacterial activity toward Escherichia coli (E. coli) and Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus). The antibacterial property is important for hospitals and other public buildings that are prone to bacterial growth, a main cause of infection and disease.