Nosocomial infections (hospital acquired infections) are one of the leading causes of patient mortality in healthcare environments. Numerous ideas and products are being developed to reduce the transmission of pathogens that are incidentally spread on touch surfaces by hospital staff and visitors between surface cleanings. Our research group had an idea to use a hard ceramic coating that is also "self-cleaning". This very interesting material - Titanium Dioxide is a well-known "self-cleaning" material because it absorbs UV-light, produces oxygen radicals and burns off dirt.
The current process of manufacturing self-cleaning glass can only work on flat surfaces. Our idea was to use a unique pulsed-pressure process to grow a thicker, wear resistant layer of titanium dioxide and we developed a way to coat handles, switches and similar surfaces with this photocatalytic material. The pp-MOCVD process was used to produce a never-before-reported type of TiO2 material and this material, which we call Active Black works in visible light.
We are working with researchers in microbiology at the University of Canterbury to test the antimicrobial efficiency of the Active Black TiO2 coating. The results show that the material reduces the number of bacteria by 90% even in the dark. Under the room light, it reduces the bacteria by 95.5% and under UV it beats any of the currently commercially available coatings with a 99.9% kill rate.
My part in this project is to use the principles of Forensic Science to analyze the Active Black material and to figure out why it works so well.