Increased proliferation of antimicrobial-resistant and new strains of bacterial pathogens severely impact the current health, environmental, and technological developments. A recent study predicted that if the trend continues at the current speed, by 2050 more people will die because of drug-resistant infections than cancer. In Abu Dhabi and the UAE, the phenomenon is even more intense with climate conditions enhancing rapid growth and spread of pathogenic microorganisms. Indicatively, a recent study commented by the The National newspaper found a “heavy growth” of the potentially deadly E. coli bug and other dangerous bacteria in Abu Dhabi, even on common work surfaces, while the prolonged use of air conditioning was found to often cause extensive fungal growth. From a technological point of view, uncontrollable bacteria proliferation/biofouling on surfaces of industrial interest in Abu Dhabi, including desalination, oil & gas processing, water treatment, and food processing, cause a serious loss of productivity, compromised quality, huge amounts of energy spent, and high costs. To this extent, the design of novel and highly efficient antibacterial agents is urgently needed.
Nanotechnology can offer unique opportunities for bottom-up development of novel bacteriostatic and bactericidal formulations. The unique bactericidal effect of nanoparticles is attributed to their small size and high surface to volume ratio, which allows them to interact closely with microbial membranes. Our recent work resulted in the development of very efficient nanostructured antibacterial agents based on graphene with bimetallic loadings while it was recently expanded with the development of novel nanostructured agents consisting of stabilized metallic species in pure ionic form that exhibited an even higher antibacterial efficacy.
The objective of the ADEK project is to build upon this prior developments and investigate the growth of highly efficient agents based on bi-metallic of multi-metallic loadings using properly engineered, high surface area porous supports, able to bound metallic species in nanoparticle but also in ionic forms. This will be combined with the expertise and capability of the group to design, modify, functionalize, and customize a variety of nanomaterials and porous nanostructures toward the development of the next-generation of antimicrobial agents.