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Antimicrobials: Silver (and copper) bullets to kill bacteria

Dana Filoti of the University of New Hampshire will present thin films of silver and copper she has developed that can kill bacteria and may one day help to cut down on hospital infections.

The antimicrobial properties of silver and copper have been known for centuries -- last year, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency officially registered copper alloys, allowing them to be marketed with the label "kills 99.9% of bacteria within two hours." Copper ions are known to penetrate bacteria and disrupt molecular pathways important for their survival.

Using zeolite ceramic structures, Filoti is testing the hypothesis that the combination of silver and copper might work synergistically to better kill bacteria, work that she will present on November 12 at a meeting of the scientific society AVS in San Jose. "The hard ceramic structure looks like Swiss cheese and inside the holes there are ions of silver and copper," says Filoti.

By experimenting with the ratio of the two metals and the texture of the thin films, she has been able to reduce the amount of microbes present on the surface by 99 percent. One application of these antimicrobials, which Filoti is developing in partnership with a company in New Hampshire, is an antimicrobial face mask designed to protect against pathogens that cause many hospital-acquired infections.

The talk "Synergistic Ag (111) and Cu (111) Texture Evolution in Phase Segregated Cu1-xAgx Magnetron Sputtered Composite Thin Films" is at 10:40 a.m. on Thursday, November 12, 2009. Abstract:


The AVS 56th International Symposium & Exhibition lasts from November 8-13, 2009 in San Jose, CA. All meeting information, including directions to the San Jose Convention Center is at:

Staff reporters and freelance journalists working on assignment for major media outlets are invited to attend the conference free of charge. Journalist registration instructions can be found at:


Online press room:

Searchable abstracts:

Full meeting program:

Main meeting page:


The AVS press room will be located in Concourse 1 of the San Jose Convention Center. Press room hours are Monday-Thursday, 8:00-5:00 pm. The phone number there is 408-271-6100. Press Kits containing company product announcements and other news will be available on CD-ROM in the press room.


As a professional membership organization, AVS fosters networking within the materials, processing, and interfaces community at various local, national or international meetings and exhibits throughout the year. AVS publishes four journals, honors and recognizes members through its prestigious awards program, offers training and other technical resources, as well as career services.

Jason Bardi | EurekAlert!
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