Antibacterial Surface Treatment for Hardened Metals

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During food processing the transfer of bacteria from contaminated food to the processing equipment can occur. Low temperature food processing, i.e., raw food such as pre-packaged salads, cannot use high temperatures to remove harmful bacteria that may be present from the growing fields. The most common methods to prevent bacterial contamination on vegetables and fruits is washing both the food and processing equipment. There is a need for instilling antimicrobial properties into food processing equipment.

Researchers at Purdue University have developed a treatment to infuse a hardened metal surface with antimicrobial peptides. By creating an oxidized metal surface with nanometer wide and micrometer deep cracks, peptides can be infused in these microscopic cracks with a simple wet process. Preliminary testing verified that the treated surfaces provide antibacterial properties in excess of the untreated surfaces. The material stored in the cracks releases over time, leading to extended times of antimicrobial resistance. The oxidation process creates an optically colored material, which provides a simple visual indicator of wear/degradation in antimicrobial performance. This technology primarily applies to food processing, knife/chopping blades used in commercial food processing, i.e., fruit and vegetables, would be less likely to transfer bacteria during processing if they cannot grow/bind onto the surface of the blades. Another possible use to extend the "cracks as storage" approach includes lubricants. The process has been demonstrated on stainless steel and titanium and is applicable to a wide range of commercial metal alloys.

-Prevents spread of bacteria across metal surfaces
-Antimicrobial properties are wear resistant
-Colored wear indicators

Potential Applications:
-Commercial food processing
-Food processing equipment
Aug 21, 2018
Utility Patent
United States
Jun 7, 2022

Aug 22, 2017
United States
Purdue Office of Technology Commercialization
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