Airdate: Jan 09, 2019
Scientist: Dr Quinn Spadola
Inspired by the fine structure of cicada wings, nano-sized spikes actually impale bacteria.
Nano CleanIt takes an electron microscope for us to see anything in the nanoscale, where we're talking billionths of a meter. But nano-scale surfaces can have useful properties like keeping things clean. I'm Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet.Spadola: Nano scale texturing and structures are being applied to kill bacteria. Dr. Quinn Spadola is education coordinator for Nanotechnology at Georgia Tech, which is part of the National Nanotechnology Coordinated Infrastructure.Spadola: This is inspired by cicadas. So if you look on their wings, there are these nano-scale spikes. And those spikes at the nano-scale kill and discourage bacteria from growing, so it keeps their wings clean and free of any infection. Scientists and engineers can copy that nano scale texture and put it on things like medical implants or medical instruments to ensure that there are no bacteria that start to develop that could then make the patient sick, for example.The nano-texturing on the cicada wings or on the implants for example, they would keep bacteria from taking hold. One bacteria might get on there and be impaled, if we're going to go with the nano spike. And then they wouldn't have the opportunity to colonize the area. If they can't get a foothold, then they're not going to keep growing and contaminate the surface. There's nothing stopping people from being able to put these nano scale structures on a door handle in a public restroom. We wouldn't be impaled by the nano spikes. They're too small for us to feel, just the bacteria. Of course, they'd probably have to still be wiped down and cleaned, but most likely the bacteria isn't getting a foothold.Pulse of the Planet is made possible in part by the Center for Earth and Environmental Nanotechnology and the National Science Foundation.