Institute of Crystallography - CNR

White light thermoplasmonic activated gold nanorod arrays enable the photo-thermal disinfection of medical tools from bacterial contamination

The outspread of bacterial pathogens causing severe infections and spreading rapidly, especially among hospitalized patients, is worrying and represents a global public health issue. Current disinfection techniques are becoming insufficient to counteract the spread of these pathogens because they carry multiple antibiotic-resistance genes. For this reason, a constant need exists for new technological solutions that rely on physical methods rather than chemicals. Nanotechnology support provides novel and unexplored opportunities to boost groundbreaking, next-gen solutions. With the help of plasmonic-assisted nanomaterials, we present and discuss our findings in innovative bacterial disinfection techniques. Gold nanorods (AuNRs) immobilized on rigid substrates are utilized as efficient white light-to-heat transducers (thermoplasmonic effect) for photo-thermal (PT) disinfection. The resulting AuNRs array shows a high sensitivity change in refractive index and an extraordinary capability in converting white light to heat, producing a temperature change greater than 50 °C in a few minute interval illumination time. Results were validated using a theoretical approach based on a diffusive heat transfer model. Experiments performed with a strain of Escherichia coli as a model microorganism confirm the excellent capability of the AuNRs array to reduce the bacteria viability upon white light illumination. Conversely, the E. coli cells remain viable without white light illumination, which also confirms the lack of intrinsic toxicity of the AuNRs array. The PT transduction capability of the AuNRs array is utilized to produce white light heating of medical tools used during surgical treatments, generating a temperature increase that can be controlled and is suitable for disinfection. Our findings are pioneering a new opportunity for healthcare facilities since the reported methodology allows non-hazardous disinfection of medical devices by simply employing a conventional white light lamp.

journal of material chemistry
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Zaccagnini, Federica; Radomski, Piotr; Sforza, Maria Laura; Zió?kowski, Pawel; Lim, Seok-In; Jeong, Kwang-Un; Mikielewicz, Dariusz; Godman, Nicholas P.; Evans, Dean R.; Slagle, Jonathan E.; McConney, Michael E.; De Biase, Daniela; Petronella, Francesca; De Sio, Luciano
Authors IC CNR