Tiny spikes on surfaces to deter bacteria from lingering
Did you know that most street furniture – park benches and the like – is specifically designed to be uncomfortable, to deter people lingering too long? It seems nature has a similar design philosophy, and has developed certain surfaces to be particularly unwelcome to unwanted visitors, such as bacteria. Dragonfly wings are like a microscopic bed of nails, and any bacteria that tries to settle in finds itself ripped apart by tiny spikes. Bacteria-deterring surfaces would be ideal for medical implants such as hip replacements, which are prone to infection, so researchers have developed synthetic materials covered in similar 'nanospikes' (pictured, with an E. Coli bacterium snared in the trap). Physical deterrents like this are particularly promising because they even work against the growing array of bacteria resistant to antibiotics. In the face of a looming antibiotic crisis, this could be a very important new tool waiting in the wings.
BPoD stands for Biomedical Picture of the Day. Managed by the MRC Laboratory of Medical Sciences until Jul 2023, it is now run independently by a dedicated team of scientists and writers. The website aims to engage everyone, young and old, in the wonders of biology, and its influence on medicine. The ever-growing archive of more than 4000 research images documents over a decade of progress. Explore the collection and see what you discover. Images are kindly provided for inclusion on this website through the generosity of scientists across the globe.
BPoD is also available in Catalan at www.bpod.cat with translations by the University of Valencia.