2015-053 – Functionalized Conjugated Polymer Biocides


Antimicrobial technologies have saved millions of lives worldwide, but recently antimicrobial resistance has become a global issue which has led to extensive research and development of new antibacterial strategies. Research on conjugated polyelectrolytes (CPEs) has gained significant momentum in the past decade due to their applications in biological and materials-related fields. In addition, conjugated polyelectrolytes contain distinctive properties known as amplified quenching. This amplified quenching is attributed to the delocalization and migration of excitons along the polymer backbone; a process often referred to as the ‘molecular wire effect’. Furthermore, it has been demonstrated that poly(phenylene ethynylene)(PPE) type CPEs and oligomers with cationic side groups possess efficient light- and dark-activated biocidal properties. A current problem, however, lies in the aggregation of CPEs.Currently, the aggregation of CPEs deactivates the excited state which halts the deactivation of pathogenic bacteria. Also, the aggregation of the CPE chains may diminish their propensity to interact with bacterial membranes which is needed to support cell death.There is a present need for further developments in aggregating CPEs in order to harness their full potential for biocidial applications.

Technology Description

Researchers at the University of New Mexico and University of Florida Research Foundation have developed a new cationic conjugated polyelectrolytes photosensitizer. This novel process to synthesize and aggregate polymers exhibits effective biocidal properties. These polymers achieve over 99% light-activated bacterial killing rate against both Gram-positive and Gram-negative strains revealing a strong potential as an effective photobiocide to kill bacteria.


  • A cationic conjugated polyelectrolytes photosensitizer
  • Over 99% light-activated bacterial killing rate against Gram-positive and Gram-negative strains
  • Biological, biocidal, antibacterial materials applications’

Potential Applications

  • Biocide
  • Decontamination
  • Antibacterial
  • Biological Materials

Contact Information

Name: Gregg Banninger

Email: GBanninger@innovations.unm.edu

Phone: 505-272-7908