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Use of Polymer Nanocomposites as Antimicrobial Polymer Materials

SpecialChem / Mark DeMeuse – Feb 18, 2013

Polymer nanocomposites with antimicrobial properties and biocompatible properties are of growing interest; thanks primarily to the variety of applications in areas such as biosensing and biomedical devices. Currently, the majority of antimicrobial polymer materials are produced by either polymer compounding with inorganic or organic biocides or by coating polymer surfaces with biocides including chemical binding. The general problems with the additive approach are poor compatibility between many biocides and the majority of polymers, a decrease in the mechanical and other major physical and engineering properties, biocide leaching, loss of antimicrobial activity and environmental and health risks due to leaching of the biocides. Coating, especially via chemical binding, can overcome many of these issues. However, it requires additional materials treatment steps, which can often result in non-uniform coatings, especially for articles with complex shapes.

Antimicrobial polymer nanocomposites are particularly interesting in that regard because materials in the nanoscale range have a high surface-to-volume ratio. Nanomaterials are thus highly efficient since they are able to attach more copies of microbial molecules and cells. Nanoscale materials have previously been investigated for antimicrobial activity as growth inhibitors, killing agents or antibiotic carriers. This article will provide a review of some of the most recent developments in this field.

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