Cheap and Stable Polymer Nanocomposite with Antibacterial Properties


Materials - Plastics & Elastomers
Materials - Composites
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The main problem of current methods used in antibacterial treatment is the use of costly materials which are additionally cytotoxic. Therefore, there is a need for new materials that will have controllable antibacterial activity to prevent bacterial resistance. These materials should be furthermore inexpensive, should not have side effects, and should require minimal maintenance. Recently, a new class of carbon nanoparticles, denoted as carbon quantum dots, has been prepared. They are an effective source of active oxygen and this form of oxygen can disrupt bacteria membranes in a very short time.

A team of inventors from a polymer institute has successfully mixed this unique material into a polymer, creating a novel antibacterial polymer composite material with special properties. The unique, nanocomposite material comprising of polymer of choice and hydrophobic carbon quantum dots, is characterised by a controllable antibacterial effect that is activated by the action of blue light (e.g. by using a conventional blue LED diode).


After irradiation of this nanocomposite material with a conventional blue LED diode, singlet oxygen is produced which effectively disrupts bacterial membranes in a very short time. Antibacterial properties have been observed at very low content of carbon quantum dots which significantly reduces the cost of the composite material (as plastics themselves are inexpensive).Competitive advantages of the novel antibacterial material are:

  • Lower production costs of the material compared to antibacterial agents based on silver or titanium
  • Controllable antibacterial activity of the material
  • Antibacterial activity is triggered by the action of blue light (e.g. by using a common blue LED diode); without the presence of this radiation (i.e. in the dark) the material does not show any toxicity to bacteria
  • Non-degradable, stable material over a long period of time
  • Insolubility of the material in water or biological fluids (urine, blood, sweat)


With the wide range of use of current polymer materials, this nanocomposite material can be used as flooring material, wall and window covering, fibres for antibacterial sutures on the body surface and other applications where antibacterial effect is required, particularly in medical applications and in industries, such as production of foods and pharmaceutical production.


  • The possibility of controlling the antibacterial effect, which is controlled by the number of turned on blue LED diodes on the ceilings or walls for example only during working hours (e.g. when used for floors and wall coverings in hospitals)
  • The antibacterial effect of the composite material does not decrease with time, and thus its lifetime is the same as the length of use of the polymer
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