Antibacterial stainless steel created

Jul 19, 2011

Materials scientists at the University of Birmingham have devised a way of making stainless steel surfaces resistant to bacteria in a project funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council which culminated this week.

By introducing silver or into the steel surface (rather than coating it on to the surface), the researchers have developed a technique that not only kills bacteria but is very hard and resistant to wear and tear during cleaning. 

Bacteria resistant surfaces could be used in hospitals to prevent the spread of superbug infections on stainless steels surfaces, as well as in medical equipment, for example, instruments and implants.  They would also be of use to the food industry and in domestic kitchens. 

The team has developed a novel surface alloying technology using Active Screen Plasma (ASP) with a purpose designed composite or hybrid metal screen.  The combined sputtering, back-deposition and diffusion allows the introduction of silver into a stainless , along with nitrogen and carbon.  The silver acts as the bacteria killing agent and the nitrogen and carbon make the stainless steel much harder and durable. 

The researchers replicated the cleaning process for medical instruments in hospitals.  After cleaning the treated instruments 120 times they found that the antibacterial properties of the stainless steel were still intact and the surface still resistant to wear. 

Hanshan Dong, Professor of Surface Engineering at the University of Birmingham and lead investigator, said: ‘Previous attempts to make stainless steel resistant to have not been successful as these have involved coatings which are too soft and not hard-wearing.  Thin antibacterial coatings can be easily worn down when interacting with other surfaces, which leads to a low durability of the antibacterial surface.  Our technique means that we avoid coating the surface, instead we modify the top layers of the surface.’

Professor Dong’s team are confident that this technique could be used in the manufacturing of products as they are already able to surface engineer items of up to two metres x two metres in the laboratory.

Explore further: Mineral magic? Common mineral capable of making and breaking bonds

Provided by University of Birmingham

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Eric_B
not rated yet Jul 19, 2011
This is very nice but it won't sway me.

Food still sticks to stainless and teflon is poisonous.

I am going all cast iron. Nothing sticks to the baked on oil coating, the iron is good for the body and they hold heat like gangbusters.
Valentiinro
1 / 5 (1) Jul 19, 2011
This is very nice but it won't sway me.

Food still sticks to stainless and teflon is poisonous.

I am going all cast iron. Nothing sticks to the baked on oil coating, the iron is good for the body and they hold heat like gangbusters.


I am a big fan of cast iron as well, but I certainly wouldn't say nothing sticks to it. It does seem less sticky than plain steel, but it's not that slick.
panorama
not rated yet Jul 19, 2011
This is very nice but it won't sway me.

Food still sticks to stainless and teflon is poisonous.

I am going all cast iron. Nothing sticks to the baked on oil coating, the iron is good for the body and they hold heat like gangbusters.


I am a big fan of cast iron as well, but I certainly wouldn't say nothing sticks to it. It does seem less sticky than plain steel, but it's not that slick.

Cast Iron is great, I love my Lodge 5-quart Dutch Oven. I do like stainless steel too, but I agree with Eric_B, non-stick surfaces are awful.