Sharklet Technologies, LLC, an Alachua, Fla. firm, says that they have figured out a new way to control infections on artificial surfaces. After extensively studying shark’s skin, the company says its proprietary Sharklet™ surface technology can control the growth of microorganisms and bacteria including Staph aureus, Pseudomonas aeruginosa and E. coli. The most interesting thing about the Sharklet™ is that the antibacterial properties of the surface come not from the chemicals but rather from the shape and microscopic pattern alone. The company says that its surface is comprised of “billions of tiny raised bars arranged in a specific diamond pattern,” and this technology can literally be embedded onto the surfaces of medical devices such as catheters or artificial hips, as well as medical care equipment such as hospital beds, or even door knobs.
More from the technology page at Sharklet Technologies:
Sharklet™ was discovered and developed by Dr. Anthony Brennan, Ph.D., at the University of Florida, who has long studied the factors that cause microorganisms to attach to surfaces, colonize, create biofilms, and begin their destructive or beneficial cycles. His work and the development of Sharklet™ as a surface technology are inspired by nature and the organism growth resistance properties of shark skin.
Upon close examination, shark skin reveals micro-topography features which are believed to contribute to its ability to violate a general rule of the ocean. Typically, slow moving animals are host to organisms such as barnacles and algae while fast moving animals are generally clean. Certain species of sharks are slow yet stay relatively clean due in part to their unique skin pattern. Sharklet™ is the first pattern inspired by shark skin and has microscopic features arranged in a unique pattern that microorganisms find inhospitable.
Dr. Anthony Brennan’s research found that microorganisms settling on a surface respond in a controlled way to chemical and physical cues. The BERI™, or Brennan Engineered Response Index, is an index that evaluates the effects on bioadhesion of systematically altering properties of a surface. Using this approach, Dr. Brennan and his researchers developed Sharklet™ and several other engineered topographies – surfaces with unique characteristics that can be tuned to evoke a specific bioresponse from organisms.
The revolutionary Sharklet™ pattern controls microorganism growth without toxic chemicals or metals. The pattern has been tested and proven effective against plant, animal and bacteria organisms. While not discernable to the naked eye or easily felt to the touch, the Sharklet™ surface technology has demonstrated in strenuous laboratory tests to be inhospitable to bacterial growth and biofilm formation as compared to smooth surfaces.