Researchers from Iowa State University have devised a method for depositing nanomaterials with antimicrobial properties on cloth and paper.

Here’s a sample from Sonal Padalkar’s lab: a carbon cloth coated with zinc oxide nanomaterials that are just billionths of a meter in size. Padalkar says the shape, size and density of the zinc oxide can be fine-tuned on the cloth. Source: Sonal Padalkar, ISU.Here’s a sample from Sonal Padalkar’s lab: a carbon cloth coated with zinc oxide nanomaterials that are just billionths of a meter in size. Padalkar says the shape, size and density of the zinc oxide can be fine-tuned on the cloth. Source: Sonal Padalkar, ISU.

Discovering that metal-oxide nanomaterials such as cerium oxide, zinc oxide and copper oxide can penetrate the cell walls of single-cell microbes, essentially killing them, Sonal Padalkar, assistant professor of mechanical engineering at Iowa State University, devised a method for depositing the nanomaterials onto cloth, demonstrating the possibility for chemical-free disinfecting wipes that kill microbes.

To deposit the nanomaterials, Padalkar applied electricity to cloth along with a solution of metal oxide precursors, resulting in robust nanostructures.

Although such cloths show promise for use in homes, hospitals, clinics, workplaces and schools, Paldakar cautions that additional research needs to be conducted to bring the antimicrobial wipes to fruition. According to Padalkar, the ideal shape, size and density of the nanomaterial needs to be determined along with the optimal surface charge on the nanomaterial to encourage bacterial interaction.

The research appears in the journal ACS Sustainable Chemistry and Engineering.

To contact the author of this article, email mdonlon@globalspec.com