Hello! I am a high school student from Southern California. I am excited to share my nanmaterial research with you. I hope you enjoy it.
Insect-inspired Nanomaterials to Combat Bacterial Infections
In 2019, more than 1.2 million deaths were due to antibiotic-resistant infections. According to the CDC, 1 out of 25 patients who go to the hospital will develop a hospital-acquired infection. These are mostly due to biofilm formation on implants and frequently touched surfaces. Recently, it was discovered that dragonflies and cicadas have nanopillars on the surface of their wings that are antibacterial. However, the mechanisms by which the nanostructures kill bacteria have yet to be determined. Soft antibacterial nanostructures have also not been fabricated. In this study, antibacterial nanopillars were fabricated out of stiff (PMMA) and soft(chitosan) materials to slow down biofilm formation on a variety of different surfaces. The antibacterial mechanisms of the nanopillars were also examined. The nanopillars were fabricated via drop cast lithography in which the solution was first poured into nanohole molds with a periodicity of 500 nm, then crosslinked. After curing, the films were peeled off of the mold revealing nanopillars, and subsequently characterized with a scanning electron microscope. Both stiff and soft films resulted in a 60-70% decrease in bacterial growth. The films were analyzed with a scanning electron microscope, and the results showed that the nanopillar films slowed down biofilm formation. Tensile testing was used to determine the modulus of the materials. Chitosan nanopillars were shown to be softer than that of a bacteria cell wall, proving that mechanical force isn’t what kills bacteria. This is the future of next-generation biomaterials to effectively inhibit biofilm growth without antibiotics.