Antibacterial coatings represent a huge market in healthcare and food sectors.CuVito™ brings together Mexican mining products and European product development, to produce a state-of-the-art copper nano-structured coating. Bacteria in hospitals present a major health issue.The effectiveness of cleaning is considerably enhanced on smooth, scratch-free surfaces.Anti-bacterial silver coatings are available; however they are not used in hospitals due to cost, effectiveness and durability.Copper offers a low cost, effective and environmentally friendly solution that could be readily adopted. The challenge is to retain copper nano-particles in a structure that provides antibacterial functionality, but prevents leaching.The CuVito consortium believes that the silsesquioxane structure, formed using Vitolane technology is the answer.
Silsesquioxanes have the formula RSiO1.5 (where R is an organic ligand), and form cage or ladder structures.They confer hardness and abrasion resistance to coatings and, by selecting appropriate R groups (e.g. acrylate, glycidoxy) can chemically bond to the organic resin in the formulation controlling cross-link density to enhance durability.Hence silsesquioxanes are inherently suited to use in coatings for surfaces which require regular cleaning.Silsesquioxanes have been available for some years but at a prohibitively high cost, due to the complexity of manufacture.Vitolane technology is an alternative, cost effective production route which has been patented and is currently being scaled up commercially.It has a unique processing feature in allowing simple selection of R groups and it is proposed to use this to bond directly to the copper nanoparticles, resolving the issue of leaching.
The objectives of the project of the project are:
- Develop a copper nano-particle production process
- Functionalise silsesquioxanes with copper using Vitolane technology
- Produce a commercially acceptable coating
- Validate coating in a hospital environment