Scientists develop low-cost, “green” antimicrobial paint

Anti-Corrosion Methods and Materials

ISSN: 0003-5599

Article publication date: 27 June 2008



(2008), "Scientists develop low-cost, “green” antimicrobial paint", Anti-Corrosion Methods and Materials, Vol. 55 No. 4.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Scientists develop low-cost, “green” antimicrobial paint

Article Type: New materials and equipment From: Anti-Corrosion Methods and Materials, Volume 55, Issue 4

Researchers at Rice University and the City College of New York (CCNY) have developed a low-cost, environmentally friendly technique for embedding antimicrobial silver nanoparticles into vegetable oil-based paints. The research could provide homes and workplaces with a new defense against germs via a fresh coat of paint.

“The simplicity of the process and economics should allow us to commercialize these paints as a versatile coating material for health and environmental applications,” said study Co-author Pulickel Ajayan, a Rice Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science. The research is available online and slated to appear in the March issue of Nature Materials.

Silver’s antibacterial properties have been known for thousands of years, and silver nanoparticles offer superior antibacterial activity while being non-toxic. However, coatings containing antimicrobial agents have failed commercially in the past due to their complex, multi-step preparation methods and high cost of production.

The CCNY-Rice team developed a “green chemistry” approach to synthesize metal nanoparticles in common household paints in situ without using hazardous reagents and solvents.

The nanoparticle-embedded coating can be applied like traditional paints to such surfaces as metal, wood, polymers, glass, and ceramics. The metal nanoparticles show characteristic color but avoid the use of short shelf-life organic pigment paints.

In addition, these coatings exhibited efficient antibacterial activity toward Escherichia coli (E. coli) and Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus). The antibacterial property is important for hospitals and other public buildings that are prone to bacterial growth, a main cause of infection and disease.

“We extensively worked on poly-unsaturated hydrocarbon chain-containing polymers to devise a novel approach to nanoparticle formation,” said lead author George John, Professor of Chemistry at CCNY.

Polyunsaturated hydrocarbons undergo auto-oxidation-induced cross-linking, which is similar to lipid peroxidation, the process by which fatty acids are oxidized in biological systems. During this process, a variety of chemically active species called “free radicals” are generated. These were used by the group as a tool to prepare metal nanoparticles in situ in the oil medium.

“Using the same approach, we should be able to produce a large variety of nano-particle dispersions useful in applications ranging from health care to catalysis,” added Co-investigator Ashavani Kumar, a Postdoctoral Research Associate at Rice.

Researchers have been working on methods for metal nanoparticle synthesis, said Praveen Kumar Vemula, one of the investigators. “However, to date, the present approach is the smartest as it is devised based on utilization of naturally occurring process.”

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