Self-Disinfectant Surfaces - Correlation between Antimicrobial Activity and Zeta Potential

A series of polymer blends composed of polypropylene and derivatives of poly(2-oxazoline) have been prepared and characterized for their antibacterial behaviour. The isoelectric point, which is derived from the pH dependence of the zeta potential at the polymer-water interface, correlates well with the degree of polymer modification and with the logarithmic reduction factor determined by antimicrobial tests. The surface zeta potential shows outstanding sensitivity to distinguish the surface functionality of different polymer blends and thus gives valuable insights for the development of maintenance-free sterile surfaces.


Microorganisms are ubiquitous in daily-life applications. They adhere to surfaces, grow, and multiply to form a colony of cells. This behaviour can cause serious problems in particular in the food industry and in sanitary applications. Maintenance-free sterile surfaces are a promising strategy to meet the requirement of long-term or even permanent antimicrobial activity, as the necessity to release small molecule biocides can be eliminated. Unlike common disinfectants that are applied as a solution, emulsion or spray, and require regular replacement, contact biocides maintain long-term antimicrobial activity. The mechanism of the antimicrobial activity of polymers provided by mere contact has not yet been fully understood. However, positive charges in the polymers have been recognized as a prerequisite for the antimicrobial activity in polymers.

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