Bacterial Growth and Death on Cotton Fabrics Conformally Coated with ZnO Thin Films of Varying Thicknesses via Atomic Layer Deposition (ALD)
Hospital fabrics are commonly exposed to multiple patients and contaminated surfaces between washing/sterilization cycles. Consequently, these textiles act as vectors for the spread of diseases, especially bacterial pathogens. Many modification schemes have been proposed to mitigate the growth and spread of bacteria on fabrics, including use of antimicrobial metal oxide nanoparticles. The aim of this study is to examine the effectiveness of conformal nanoscale ZnO coatings applied to cotton fabrics via atomic layer deposition to control bacterial spread. We find that, at low ZnO loading fractions, bacteria metabolize Zn2+ ions and reproduce more rapidly. However, as the ZnO loading is increased, the higher concentrations of Zn2+ overwhelm the bacteria and the nanocoatings become effective antibacterial treatments, killing all bacteria present. These results map out an important design space for implementing ZnO coatings as a potential antimicrobial treatment for textiles and other surfaces.
Funding for this project came from the Georgia Tech President’s Undergraduate Research Award (PURA), the Petit Bioengineering Undergraduate Research Fellowship, and the Roxanne D. Westendorf Undergraduate Research Fund. Additionally, this material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program under Grant No. DGE-1650044. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation. Part of this research was conducted in Georgia Tech’s Materials Innovation & Learning Laboratory (The MILL), an uncommon “make and measure” space committed to elevating undergraduate research in materials science. This work was also performed in part at the Georgia Tech Institute for Electronics and Nanotechnology, a member of the National Nanotechnology Coordinated Infrastructure, which is supported by the National Science Foundation (Grant No. ECCS-1542174). Finally, the authors thank Brandon D. Piercy for performing x-ray diffraction for this study.
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
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