A Korea research team successfully developed a method to make low-cost and high-performance antibacterial glass panels using iron nanoparticles. These glass panels are expected to be utilized in smartphones, owing to their antibacterial nature and the transparency and durability of the panels.
On Sept. 28, a research team led by Yoon Soon-gil, professor of the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at Chungnam National University, announced that they succeeded in developing a new technique to make antibacterial glass panels that are scratch resistant and more durable than existing ones using iron nanoparticles. Iron nanoparticles are cheaper than commonly-used nanoparticles, and they are antibacterial.
Since touch panels for smartphones can be easily coated with germs while being used, attempts have been made to coat touch panels with nanoparticles of silver, copper, and iron, which have antibacterial characteristics.
In particular, antibacterial films using silver nanoparticles have already been commercialized because they have strong antibacterial effects. However, silver nanoparticles are vulnerable to repetitive touch, as they do not strongly stick to transparent glass.
The team solved the problem using iron nanoparticles. After being examined for antibacterial properties towards E. coli and Staphylococcus aureus, glass panels coated with iron nanoparticles were found to have more than 99.99 percent antibacterial activity values, similar to silver nanoparticles. Also, those glass panels showed light penetrability at the level of transparent glass.
Titanium nanoparticles were inserted between iron nanoparticles and glass to enhance resistance to sliding the phone by increasing the adhesive strength between the iron nanoparticles and glass. As a result, the glass panel maintained more than 90 percent transparency even after over 2,000 sliding tests. Moreover, its transparency or antibacterial nature was not affected either, even though iron was oxidized due to its exposure to the air for more than three months.
Professor Yoon said, “Our study went beyond the limits of conventional technologies through a switch of ideas. I think that the newly-developed method could be commercialized in as early as two to three years.” He added, “The research findings are expected to be utilized in a variety of nano and bio convergence areas.”
The research findings were first published online by Scientific Reports, a scientific journal published by the Nature Publishing Group.