By Chris Adam
Researchers at Purdue University have developed technology to create a hard metal surface that kills bacteria that try to attach to the surface. STOCK PHOTO: COURTESY OF PURDUE
Researchers at Purdue University have developed a treatment to infuse a hardened metal surface with naturally occurring antimicrobial peptides. The Purdue team’s technology creates a hard metal surface that kills bacteria that try to attach to the surface.
“When we create an oxidized metal surface with nanometer-wide and micrometer-deep cracks, peptides can be infused in these microscopic cracks with a simple wet process,” says David Bahr, team leader and head and professor of materials engineering at Purdue. “As an additional benefit, the process can color several metals, providing a visual indication of when the surface is no longer antimicrobial.”
The technology is particularly useful for food processing and cutting surfaces, such as surfaces in restaurant kitchens, deli counters, bakeries, butcher departments, commissaries, and food manufacturing plants. Food prep surfaces can be especially vulnerable to bacteria growth and attachment given the materials and surface designs, Bahr says.
“Our technology can help ensure that if a food processing facility was chopping salad greens, bacteria would not transfer from a contaminated surface to a cutting tool, thereby contaminating many more parts,” he explains. “When used in conjunction with food washing and other safe handling, this should allow fewer outbreaks of foodborne illness.”
Preliminary testing verified that the treated surfaces provide antibacterial properties in excess of the untreated surfaces. The material stored in the cracks releases over time, leading to extended times of antimicrobial resistance. The oxidation process creates an optically colored material, which provides a simple visual indicator of wear or degradation in antimicrobial performance.
The process has been demonstrated on stainless steel and titanium and is applicable to a wide range of commercial metal alloys.
The creators are looking for partners to commercialize their technology. For more information on licensing this innovation, contact Dipak Narula of OTC.
In a peptide release test, the increased purple color shows more peptides being released. PHOTO: COURTESY OF PURDUE
Chris Adam is a writer/publicist for Purdue Research Foundation.