As antibacterial paper, graphene could lead to smarter bandages, food containers, shoes

Researchers develop a new use for graphene: antibacterial paper. Coming soon: smarter shoes, bandages, and more.
Written by Boonsri Dickinson, Contributing Editor

Scientists created a paper that can fight disease-causing bacteria by using graphene.

While most researchers are trying to develop graphene as a possible replacement for silicon chips and in sensors, Shanghai Institute of Applied Physics' researcher Chunhai Fan was curious how living cells would interact with graphene.

Fan found that bacteria doesn't grow on the special paper. In fact, the graphene-based nanomaterials prevented the growth of E. coli bacteria and wasn't cytotoxic to human cells.

The paper could be used to keep shoes odorless, help store food longer, and create antibacterial bandages.

"Given the superior antibacterial effect of graphene oxide nanosheets and the fact that graphene oxide nanosheets can be mass-produced and easily processed to make freestanding and flexible paper with low cost, we expect this new carbon nanomaterial could offer new opportunities for the development of antibacterial materials," the researchers wrote.

The market for antibacterial materials and surfaces is huge. MIT researchers previously created an antimicrobial paint that could kill viruses instantly upon contact.

When the flu virus lands on the substance, the polymer would poke holes in membranes of the unwanted virus. If door knobs and other dirty surfaces were coated in it, in theory, it would stop the spread of the flu.

Like the antibacterial paper, the paint would fight off bacteria such as E. coli. The advantage is that the bacteria wouldn't become resistant. Other researchers have claimed to have developed paint that can kill superbugs, mold, fungi, and viruses.

Credit: ACS Nano

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