stainless steel technology

An electrochemical process developed at Georgia Tech could offer new protection against bacterial infections without contributing to growing antibiotic resistance.

The approach capitalizes on the natural antibacterial properties of copper and creates incredibly small needle-like structures on the surface of stainless steel to kill harmful bacteria like E. coli and Staphylococcus. It’s convenient and inexpensive, and it could reduce the need for chemicals and antibiotics in hospitals, kitchens, and other settings where surface contamination can lead to serious illness.

It also could save lives: A global study of drug-resistant infections found they directly killed 1.27 million people in 2019 and contributed to nearly 5 million other deaths — making these infections one of the leading causes of death for every age group.

Researchers described the copper-stainless steel and its effectiveness May 20 in the journal Small.

“Killing Gram-positive bacteria without chemicals is comparatively easy but tackling Gram-negative bacteria poses a significant challenge, due to their thick, multilayered cell membrane. And if these bacteria persist on surfaces, they can grow rapidly,” said Anuja Tripathi, the study’s lead author and a postdoctoral scholar in the School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering. “I aimed to develop an antibiotic-free bactericidal surface effective against Gram-negative and Gram-positive bacteria.”

Tripathi and her colleagues — William R. McLain Professor Julie Champion and former Ph.D. students Jaeyoung Park and Thomas Pho — produced a one-two punch that overcomes those challenges and doesn’t help bacteria develop resistance to drugs.

Read Full Story on College of Engineering Page