Manufacturing & Prototyping

New Laser Treatment Makes Metal Surfaces Antimicrobial

Bacterial pathogens can live on surfaces for days. Purdue University  engineers are developing a laser treatment method that could potentially turn any metal surface into a bacteria-killer simply by giving the metal’s surface a different texture. The researchers are starting with copper. “Copper has been used as an antimicrobial material for centuries. But it typically takes hours for native copper surfaces to kill off bacteria,” said Purdue researcher Rahim Rahimi. “We developed a one-step laser-texturing technique that effectively enhances the bacteria-killing properties of copper’s surface.” The rugged texture increases surface area, allowing more opportunity for bacteria to hit the surface and rupture on the spot. The technique might also apply to metallic alloys that are known to have antimicrobial properties and has applications in medical device manufacturing. It is not yet modified to killing viruses like the one responsible for the COVID-19 pandemic.