antibacterial surfaces

Antibacterial surfaces are one way that we are fighting back against antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Killing bacteria before they infect our bodies obviously precludes the need for an antibiotic.

In one type of antibacterial surface -- naturally found on dragonfly wings -- tiny pillars physically rip bacteria apart. Other surfaces employ silver nanoparticles. As effective as these surfaces can be, the trouble is that dead microbes build up over time, decreasing their efficacy. Ideally, therefore, antibacterial surfaces should be self-cleaning. A team of researchers in China describes one such surface that they developed.

The scientists began with silicon wafers, onto...

Special bacteria-killing surfaces constitute a highly active area of research and development.

Strategies to construct them vary widely. One group has infused a slippery surface with molecules that disrupt bacterial communication. Others have shown that silver nanoparticle coatings can destroy bacteria. Yet another group used black silicon to create a surface that resembled a tiny "bed of nails" (nanopillars), which physically rip bacteria apart.

That latter example, which ...