2008-099 – “Smart” Films and Assemblies for Capture, Kill and Release of Pathogens: Dark and Light Activated Antimicrobial Activity of Combined Stimuli-Responsive and Biocidal Oligomers


There is a demonstrated need for novel antimicrobials which circumvent the resistance mechanisms which are becoming increasingly pervasive amongst pathogenic bacteria. Solutions of photoactivated conjugated polyelectrolytes exhibit visible light-activated biocidal activity against suspensions of Gram-negative and Gram-positive bacteria such as Esherichia coli and Bacillus anthracis. Subsequent investigations have shown that these same polymers can be effective at killing bacteria when incorporated into coatings either by physisorbing or grafting the polymer to the surface. The polymer coatings are active in trapping bacteria in the dark and the entrapped bacteria can be killed slowly in the dark or much more rapidly by irradiation with visible light. A significant drawback to biocidal surfaces has been the loss of efficacy as the surface becomes contaminated with dead bacteria and bacterial debris. Stimuli responsive polymer (SRP) surfaces have been demonstrated to release adsorbed cells, as well as proteins and other biomacromolules in response to an external signal and to reorient convalently attached polymers in order to control their activity.

Technology Description
Researchers at the University of New Mexico and University of Florida have uncovered an invention that combines the biocidal activities of conjugated polyelectrolytes with control over polymer orientation and/or adhesive properties provided by SRPs. The result provides a plurality of novel compounds known as cationic oligomeric phenylene ethynylenes (OPEs) which can be divided into two classes, non-symmetrical and symmetrical. These OPEs have been synthesized and studied as dark and light activated biocides. Various combinations of these two powerful technologies enables many different applications including but not limited to simultaneous detection and inactivation of pathogens or creating a regenerating biocidal surface.


  • Sensing and decontamination can be combined by using the binding of the pathogen as the trigger which activates the biocide
  • Biocide can be used to capture and deactivate pathogens, the debris of which can subsequently released, creating a self-cleaning biocidal surface
  • Employed as an active sensor which can be monitored by steady state fluorescence

Potential Applications

  • Material Detection
  • Decontamination
  • Fluorescence Sensing
  • Biosensing
  • Antimicrobials
  • Biocides
  • Disinfectant

Contact Information

Name: Gregg Banninger

Email: GBanninger@innovations.unm.edu

Phone: 505-272-7908