Nanolightning-BioEnd: A Self-sustaining Nanoparticle Coating That Eliminates and Prevents Biofilm in Water Systems

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The Nanolightning-BioEnd product grew out of the J&R Project to reproduce and improve on a well-established (for military applications) antimicrobial self-sustaining dynamic process. The material includes polymer coating paramagnetic iron nanoparticles embedded in epoxy attached to transparent polystyrene. This immobilized nanoparticle composite when placed in a flowing or static water system killed or suppressed introduce bacteria (Bacillus thuringiensis) or naturally arising biofilm-forming opportunistic pathogenic bacteria (Pseudomonas aeruginosa) and many other natural environmental contaminants. The major breakthrough discovered by the Project was a formulation that no longer required the addition of external reactants or a non-ionizing electromagnetic energy source, only ambient energy and environmental reactants. The mechanism for the microbial killing is thermally activated delayed fluorescence (TADF) which continues for months to years once activated. It has been demonstrated under field conditions. TADF is a well-known mechanism for enhancing the efficiency of Organic Light Emitting Diodes (OLED) by harvesting triplet excitons. In the killing mechanism, these excitons yield the imminent effectors, free radicals.

TADF may superficially resemble phosphorescence, but it is not just storage of light and slow re-emission of longer wavelengths. TADF stores both photons and other forms of non-radiative energy. Long wavelength ultraviolet light activation (320-395 nm) emits immediate and slow fluorescence, the latter derived from stored photons absorbed previously by heating and irradiating with UV (suppressing TADF) simultaneously. The process can also be sustained by energy from redox reactions. Long UV (UVA) irradiation can be thought of as opening a valve or gateway to release the energy as slow fluorescence. The energy (in the dark state) can be utilized in redox chain reactions that kill bacteria, viruses and other microbes including those that form biofilm. As long as the Dark States (killing free radicals) are being siphoned off, the slow fluorescence does not occur, and the killing is sustained and maintained by ambient energy sources. The state of depletion of the material can be measured by the appearance of slow fluorescence when irradiated with a 395nm light flashlight.

The potential applications extend from preventing biofilm fouling in cooling water towers to plumbing and toilets.



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  • Name:
    Johnathan Kiel
  • Type of entry:
  • Patent status: