Jump to main content
Jump to site search
Access to RSC content Close the message box

Continue to access RSC content when you are not at your institution. Follow our step-by-step guide.

Photothermal Bactericidal Surfaces: Killing Bacteria by Light Instead of Biocides


Endowing the surfaces of synthetic materials with bactericidal activity is a direct and effective way to prevent bacterial colonization and biofilm formation, solving the related serious problems such as contamination, infection and biofouling. Conventional bactericidal surfaces are usually based on the biocidal agents such as antibiotics to kill attached bacteria, however, such surfaces have inherent limitations from their respective biocidal agents and most of them become less effective against so called “super bacteria” with multidrug-resistance. In recent years, photothermal bactericidal surfaces have become a promising alternative for combating surface-attached bacteria. These surfaces rely on immobilized photothermal agents, which can convert light energy to thermal energy to effectively eliminate bacteria through various hyperthermia effects, showing several advantages including broad-spectrum sterilization, no drug resistance and few side effects. In this review, we highlight the recent development of these photothermal bactericidal surfaces, which are categorized into three types according to the photothermal agents. Multi-functional photothermal bactericidal surfaces with either integrated synergistic killing mechanisms or capability to switch function between killing bacteria and releasing bacteria are also introduced. A brief perspective is finally presented on directions that show promise for the future.

Back to tab navigation

Article information

18 Apr 2020
22 May 2020
First published
22 May 2020

Biomater. Sci., 2020, Accepted Manuscript
Article type
Review Article

Photothermal Bactericidal Surfaces: Killing Bacteria by Light Instead of Biocides

Y. Zou, Y. zhang, Q. Yu and H. Chen, Biomater. Sci., 2020, Accepted Manuscript , DOI: 10.1039/D0BM00617C

Social activity

Search articles by author