Technological watch

Novel Lab-Made Nanotexture Kills up to 70% of Bacteria

Mar 22 2022Reviewed by Bethan DaviesResearchers developed a natural antibacterial texture for use on food packaging to extend shelf life and minimize waste, inspired by the bacteria-killing wings of insects like cicadas.

Multifunctional Mechano-biocidal Materials Research Group: Denver Linklater, Phuc Le, Elena Ivanova, Arturo Aburto-Medina, Karolline De Sousa. Image Credit: RMIT University.An Australian–Japanese team of scientists developed a laboratory-made nanotexture that destroys up to 70% of bacteria and maintains its efficiency when transferred to plastic.

Over 30% of food produced for human consumption is wasted, with whole shipments being discarded if bacterial growth is identified.

The findings pave the way for major waste reduction, notably in meat and dairy exports, as well as increased shelf life and improved safety, quality and integrity of packaged food on an industrial scale.

RMIT University in Melbourne, Australia’s Distinguished Professor Elena Ivanova stated that the scientists successfully introduced a natural phenomenon to a synthetic material — plastic.

Eliminating bacterial contamination is a huge step in extending the shelf life of food. We knew the wings of cicadas and dragonflies were highly-efficient bacteria killers and could help inspire a solution, but replicating nature is always a challenge. We have now created a nanotexturing that mimics the bacteria-destroying effect of insect wings and retains its antibacterial power when printed on plastic.

Elena Ivanova, Distinguished Professor, RMIT University

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Publication date: 22/03/2022



This project has received funding from the Bio Based Industries Joint Undertaking under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 837761.