2012-003 – Thiophene Based Oligomers as Light Activated Biocides


Bacterial resistance to conventional antibiotics is a growing global concern. Photodynamic therapy is a promising alternative to conventional antibacterial regimens. Photodynamic therapies employ the absorption of visible and UV light to induce phototoxic bacterial reactions. Current research trends in photodynamic therapy are targeted toward the development of antibacterial agents possessing the capacity for optimal singlet oxygen yield. Increased singlet oxygen yield has been found to magnify biocidal activity against several pathogens including bacteria and viruses. Therefore, there exists a present market need for novel antibacterial agents that can produce increased levels of singlet oxygen. Recent developments revolving around the use of thiophene-based oligomers as light-activated reagents have shown promising results in producing increases in singlet oxygen.

Technology Description
University of New Mexico and University of Florida researchers have developed a method for synthesizing thiophene-based oligomers functionalized with cationic end groups exhibiting light-activated biocidal characteristics. More specifically, the synthesis, photophysical properties and light-activated biocidal activity of a set of three cationic, water-soluble, thiophene containing oligomers that feature varying donor-acceptor interactions were studied. The absorption of these oligomers in the visible region increases with the strength of the acceptor unit. The results show that the biocidal activity of the oligomers can correlate with their photophysical properties. Among the oligomers studied, the terthiophene derivative was found to kill the bacteria efficiently.


  • Empirically shown to be very efficient at killing Staphylococcus aureus in the presence of light
  • Efficiently sensitizes the formation of singlet oxygen, enhancing biocidal activity

Potential Applications

  • Biocide
  • Decontamination
  • Disinfectant
  • Antimicrobial Treatments
    • Hospital Garments
    • Medical Devices
    • Filtration Systems
    • Surgical Instruments

Contact Information

Name: Gregg Banninger

Email: GBanninger@innovations.unm.edu

Phone: 505-272-7908