The growing concerns over resistance of antibiotics for infections combined with existing infections acquired from hospitals from surgical instruments, implants, and heavily touched surfaces have ramped up creation of antimicrobial material in recent years.
Meanwhile, age-old wet-chemistry methods to create biocidal substances are complex, expensive, and time-intensive. A tutorial in the Journal of Applied Physics presents a tutorial to examine a favorable alternative called plasma-enabled surface engineering.
Plasma-enabled engineering is an environmentally friendly and inexpensive method. This is because it does not require the use of solvents and can be ramped up for industrial production in a relatively simple manner.
The technology depends on nonequilibrium plasma, or partially ionized gas that produces chemical reactions to alter properties at the material surface. The different temperature levels within the plasma create distinct chemical pathways. Reactions within the plasma can be controlled by adjusting electric power for coating deposition, surface activation, and surface nanostructuring of practically any solid material.
In fact, plasma-enabled engineering can create antifouling, contact-killing, and drug-release surfaces. Contact-killing materials kill microorganisms through the microscope spikes that puncture microorganisms on contact.
One study demonstrated plasma-etched black silicon nanopillar formations are highly bactericidal against various bacteria, including Staphylococcus aureus.
Antifouling materials counteract microorganisms from gathering on surfaces to form biofilms and other hazardous microbial environments. Some of the materials are inspired from inventions of the nature such as antifouling virtues of dragonfly wings and cicada. These are made of nanopillars that destroy microbes on contact and generate biochemicals to fight off moisture.
Plasma polymerized superhydrophobic fine coatings have also been extensively advanced and examined for their antifouling properties. The lack of moisture prevents microorganism from sticking to and replicating on these surfaces.