Airdate: Jan 24, 2019
Scientist: Paul Westerhoff
Nano-spikes of silver impale invading bacteria!
Alternative AntibioticOne of the problems with antibiotics is that bacteria can become resistant to them. Tiny nanoparticles of silver can also effectively kill bacteria. I'm Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet.Westerhoff: One of the unique things about silver is bacteria can't build up a genetic resistance to silver. Paul Westerhoff is Regents professor in the School of Sustainable Engineering in the Built Environment at Arizona State University.Westerhoff: A lot of people look at silver as a natural alternative to chemical antibiotics that we use frequently.The way that silver kills the bacteria is by dissolving into water as one little silver ion, and that can kill a bacteria. So when we make a packet of these ions together, they become a nanoparticle. That nanoparticle can move around or dissolve quickly, but if it's a big piece of silver, it dissolves really slow, like years. So, by controlling the size of the nanosilver particle, it becomes a way to be a delivery mechanism on where and how fast we should deliver silver to kill bacteria. For example, there's a number of products out there, whether they're socks, or running shorts, or even underwear that people want to prevent odors in. So people have started using nanosilver in these fibers as a natural way of doing it. And so your underwear doesn't smell, your socks don't smell. They're putting it on the inside layer in cloth diapers that touches the baby's bottom, so that you don't get rashes on babies. And it's all because of the possibility of nanosilver to effectively release silver ions that kill bacteria.Pulse of the Planet is made possible in part by the Center for Earth and Environmental Nanotechnology and the National Science Foundation. I'm Jim Metzner.