In a breakthrough, researchers, including one of Indian-origin, have developed a transparent coating for everyday items such as smartphones and door handles that may protect people against deadly antibiotic-resistant bacteria, including MRSA and E coli. The discovery could control the spread of superbugs which experts fear are on course to kill 10 million people every year by 2050 — more than will die from cancer, researchers said. Also Read - Why smartphones must be classified as an essential product during COVID-19 lockdownsAlso Read - How is the Smartphone Industry Trend in 2021?
Using nanotechnology, the discovery is an effective and practical antimicrobial solution — an agent that kills microorganisms or inhibits their growth — that can be used to protect a range of everyday items, according to researchers from Institute of Technology Sligo (IT Sligo) in Ireland. Items include anything made from glass, metallics and ceramics including computer or tablet screens, smartphones, ATMs, door handles, TVs, handrails, lifts, urinals, toilet seats, fridges, microwaves and ceramic floor or wall tiles, they said.
It will be of particular use in hospitals and medical facilities which are losing the battle against the spread of killer superbugs, researchers said. Other common uses would include in swimming pools and public buildings, on glass in public buses and trains, sneeze guards protecting food in restaurants as well as in clean rooms in the medical sector.
“It is absolutely wonderful to finally be at this stage. This breakthrough will change the whole fight against superbugs. It can effectively control the spread of bacteria,” said Suresh C Pillai from IT Sligo who led the study. “Every single person has a sea of bacteria on their hands. The mobile phone is the most contaminated personal item that we can have. Bacteria grows on the phone and can live there for up to five months,” said Pillai, who started the study at Dublin Institute of Technology (DIT).
The new water-based solution can be sprayed onto any glass, ceramic or metallic surface during the production process, rendering the surface 99.9% resistant to superbugs like MRSA, E coli and other fungi. The solution is sprayed on the product — such as a smartphone glass surface — and then ‘baked’ into it, forming a super-hard surface. The coating is transparent, permanent and scratch resistant and actually forms a harder surface than the original glass or ceramic material.
Researchers first developed the revolutionary material to work on ceramics and has spent the last five years adapting the formula – which is non-toxic and has no harmful bi-products – to make it work on glass and metallic surfaces. The findings were published in the journal Scientific Reports.