Nanostructured Surfaces with Multimodal Antimicrobial Action

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Nanostructured Surfaces with Multimodal Antimicrobial Action
Nanostructured Surfaces with Multimodal Antimicrobial Action
Journal Title:
Accounts of Chemical Research
Publication Date:
07 December 2021
Riduan, S. N., & Zhang, Y. (2021). Nanostructured Surfaces with Multimodal Antimicrobial Action. Accounts of Chemical Research, 54(24), 4508–4517.
Self-disinfecting surfaces are a current pressing need for public health and safety in view of the current COVID-19 pandemic, where the keenly felt worldwide repercussions have highlighted the importance of infection control, frequent disinfection, and proper hygiene. Because of its potential impact upon real world translation into downstream applications, there has been much research interest in multiple disciplines such as materials science, chemistry, biology, and engineering. Various antimicrobial technologies have been developed and currently applied on surfaces in public spaces, such as elevator buttons and escalator handrails. These technologies are mainly based on conventional methods of grafting quaternary ammonium salts (QACs) such as benzalkonium chloride or the immobilization of metal species of silver or copper. However, neither the long-term efficacy nor the fast-killing properties have been proven, and the future repercussions from extended use, such as environmental hazards and the induction of MDR development, is unknown. Nanostructured surfaces with excellent antimicrobial activities have been claimed to be the next generation of self disinfecting surfaces with various promising applications and passive antimicrobial mechanisms, without the potential repercussions of active ingredient overuse. In this Account, we briefly introduce the concept of mechanobactericidal action realized by these nanostructured surfaces first discovered on cicada wings. The elimination of microbes on the surface was actualized by the physical rupture of the microbe cell wall by nanoprotusions, without any involvement of chemical species. By mimicking the physical features of naturally occurring biocidal surfaces, the fabrication of nanostructures on various substrates such as titania, silicon, and polymers has been well described. Observations of the dependence of their antimicrobial efficacy on physical characteristics such as height, density, and rigidity have also been documented. However, the complex fabrication of such nanostructures remains the main drawback preventing its widespread application. We outline our efforts in fabricating a series of zinc-based nanostructured materials with facile and generally applicable wet chemistry methods, including nanodaggered zeolitic imidazolate frameworks (ZIF-L) and ZnO nanoneedles. In our investigations, we discovered that there were additional modes of action that contributed to the excellent biocidal activities of our materials. The impact of surface chemistry and charge was partially responsible for the selectivity and efficacy of ZIF-L-coated surfaces, where the positively charged surfaces were able to attract and adhere negatively charged bacteria to the surface. The combination of semiconductor ZnO nanoneedles on electron-donating substrates allowed for the generation of reactive oxygen species (ROS), realizing the remote killing of bacteria unadhered to the nanostructured surface. Additionally, we demonstrate several real-life applications of the synthesized materials, underscoring the importance of materials development suited for scale-up and eventual translation to potential applications and commercial end products.
License type:
Publisher Copyright
Funding Info:
This research / project is supported by the National Research Foundation (NRF) - Competitive Research Program
Grant Reference no. : NRF-CRP19-2017-02
This document is the Accepted Manuscript version of a Published Work that appeared in final form in Accounts of Chemical Research, copyright © American Chemical Society after peer review and technical editing by the publisher. To access the final edited and published work see
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