Researchers in the Molecular and Industrial Biotechnology Group of the Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya BarcelonaTech (UPC), in Barcelona, Spain, have improved the antimicrobial properties of medical textiles using an enzymatic pre-treatment combined with simultaneous deposition of nanoparticles and biopolymers under ultrasonic irradiation.

They say that the technique can be used to create completely sterile antimicrobial textiles that can help prevent hospital-acquired infections. The research was carried out within the framework of the European Union funded SONO project, which received €12 million in funding and involves a consortium of 17 companies and research centers.

The research goal is to improve the antimicrobial properties of medical textiles by using ultrasonic irradiation to deposit zinc oxide nanoparticles and biopolymers on the materials. By applying these enzymes, the researchers increased the durability of the nanoparticles on the fabric to such a degree that they remain present even after 70 laundry cycles.

The effectiveness of the antimicrobial treatment has been boosted by incorporating hybrid materials that combine organic and inorganic components (zinc and chitosan nanoparticles) within the fabric. In addition to eliminating any bacteria present, these materials prevent the growth of new microbes.