Tuning antimicrobial properties of biomimetic nanopatterned surfaces
Nature has amassed an impressive array of structures that afford protection from microbial colonization/infection when displayed on the exterior surfaces of organisms. Here, controlled variation of the features of mimetics derived from etched silicon allows for tuning of their antimicrobial efficacy. Materials with nanopillars up to 7 μm in length are extremely effective against a wide range of microbial species and exceed the performance of natural surfaces; in contrast, materials with shorter/blunter nanopillars (<2 μm) selectively killed specific species. Using a combination of microscopies, the mechanisms by which bacteria are killed are demonstrated, emphasizing the dependence upon pillar density and tip geometry. Additionally, real-time imaging reveals how cells are immobilized and killed rapidly. Generic or selective protection from microbial colonization could be conferred to surfaces [for, e.g., internal medicine, implants (joint, dental, and cosmetic), food preparation, and the agricultural industry] patterned with these materials as coatings.