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Russian scientists create biodegradable polymer films with antiseptic effect

Researchers from the Far Eastern Federal University (FEFU) and Institute of Chemistry at the Far East Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences have synthesized polymer films with antibacterial properties which could be extensively used in medicine. The results of the study have been published in the journal Polymer Engineering and Science.
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Antiseptic properties of polymethylolacrylamide films (PMAA) were tested using Staphylococcus aureus and bacteria obtained from the Sea of Japan. Scientists note that the antibacterial activity could be connected to formaldehyde accumulated both in the films' pores while synthesizing as well as released from the films during tests.

«The acquired results are of great practical importance,» the study’s author Lidia Kolzunova said. «Polymers act as a favorable media for evolving bacteria and shaping biofilms, hence, it is essential to furnish them with antibacterial properties. The biocidal impact of PMAA against microorganisms could be readily applied in medicine, for example, while developing antiseptic materials and implants, as well as for protecting devices from biocorrosion.»

The experiments proved that the new material is biodegradable. After 45 days, the films lost their antiseptic activity and, in contrast, turned into a breeding ground for bacterial growth. In this way, the PMMA antiseptic films can be easily recovered after performing its functions.

According to the researcher, the new polymer films might be used as membranes in the food industry, such as milk sterilization, obtaining an alcohol-free beer and wine, and for synthesizing some chemical compounds.

Polymer films were deposited by using electropolymerization, that is by adding a small electrical voltage to the solutions of corresponding monomers. During the course of synthesis, the formaldehyde was infused into the material composition, as it is capable of forming chemical bonds with PMAA and provides antibacterial properties to the subsequent films. By means of electropolymerization, the polymer coatings were appplied in 5−10 minutes, with the normal water being applied as a solvent which makes the whole technique inexpensive, non-toxic, fire-and explosion proof. In other modern approaches, polymer antiseptic coatings are generated during the course of far more sophisticated and multi-stage synthesis.

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