Watch How Microbubbles Bust BiofilmsS. Himmelstein | September 19, 2018
Formation of bacterial biofilms on medical devices, living tissue and other surfaces poses the risk of infection and degradation of engineered materials. Chemical agents such as antibiotics and disinfectants are ineffective in combatting these slimy coatings, as they are often unable to penetrate a biofilm's tough surface.
An international team of researchers has pioneered a bubbly biomechanical approach to combating biofilms. Hollow, porous diatoms were recruited as micro-bubble generators equipped with a hydrogen peroxide supply and doped with manganese oxide nanosheets.
In an antiseptic hydrogen peroxide solution, the diatom bubblers emit oxygen gas bubbles continually and become self-motile. The diatoms infiltrate the bacterial biofilm formed on either flat or microgrooved silicon substrates and continue to produce microbubbles that exert sufficient mechanical energy to penetrate the film. Bacterial cells are inactivated by hydrogen peroxide molecules, which diffuse into the biofilm.
Researchers from Carle Illinois College of Medicine, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, the Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology (Singapore), National Institute of Aerospace (Virginia), NASA Langley Research Center and Korea Institute of Industrial Technology (South Korea) participated in this development.