Researchers from the United States Air Force Research Laboratory and Georgia Institute of Technology have developed an innovative process for adding potent and broad-spectrum antimicrobial activity to a wide variety of biomimetically-synthesized bio-inorganic composites. Though bio-inspired synthesis techniques offer control of material properties under mild processing conditions, a general route to confer antimicrobial activity to such materials was previously lacking.
As described in Advanced Functional Materials, the nitrogen-containing biomolecules or polymers entrapped within biomimetically-synthesized hybrid materials were chlorinated to yield halamines. Halamines are compounds that contain one or more nitrogen-halogen (e.g., chlorine) covalent bonds and able to transfer oxidizing halogens to microbes. Such halamine-functionalized materials were used to rapidly (within 10 minutes) kill clinically relevant bacteria, as well as Bacillus thuringiensis spores.
By combining bio-inspired synthesis techniques with halamine chemistry, a new class of easily-synthesized materials have been created that may be used to combat pathogenic microorganisms (including bacterial spores) in clinical and defense settings. The synthesized materials may be utilized in a variety of formats including dispersible powders, paint additives, or coatings.