In this interview, AZoNano talks with Dr. Yugen Zhang, to find out more about nanomaterials in antimicrobial applications and the recent research with his team.
What makes nanomaterials useful for antimicrobial applications?
Their surface microtopography or structure makes them useful for antimicrobial applications. Our antimicrobial materials are designed with a nail-like surface that kills microbes by physically rupturing their cell membranes. This prevents the microbes from developing drug resistance and mutating into superbugs. Our nanomaterials are inexpensive to produce, environmentally friendly and safe. They are effective against a wide range of microbes and would be a powerful weapon against superbugs.
Why is using biological influence helpful for developing our technology?
Nature provides us with the inspiration for our research. In the case of our nano coating, we were inspired by the wings of dragonflies and cicadas, which prevent bacteria from adhering to their surfaces because they are covered in miniscule “nails” called nanopillars. We have adapted their surface structure design to develop our new coating technology.
What does the future of nano research look like?
Nanotechnology can lead to better solutions for problems we encounter in our daily life.
How can the nano coatings researched in this study be used in day-to-day life?
Our nano coating can be used for disinfecting different types of frequently-touched surfaces in public or private areas, such as door handles, tables and lift buttons, to reduce the spread of infectious diseases. This technology will prove particularly useful in creating bacteria-free surfaces in places like hospitals and clinics, where sterilization is important to help control the spread of infections. We also plan to test our technology for air filtration and water purification.
How soon can we expect to be using them and will they become more widely available?
We hope to commercialize our nano coating as soon as possible. The first product may be available within two years, and we hope to make them widely available in five years.
How did you discover the materials used to create the nano coatings?
The material we use, zinc oxide, is known for its anti-bacterial and non-toxic properties, so we developed the coating method to fabricate nanostructured surfaces using this material.
What is a nano coating?
Here, it means to fabricate a layer of nanostructures on various types of surfaces.
About Dr. Yugen Zhang
A IBN Group Leader at Singapore's Agency for Science, Technology and Research, Dr. Yugen Zhang has published over 150 papers detailing his research into nanomaterials.
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