A whale's skin is easily glommed up with barnacles, algae, bacteria and other sea creatures, but sharks stay squeaky-clean. Although these parasites can pile onto a shark's rippled skin too, they can't take hold and thus simply wash away. Now scientists have printed that pattern on an adhesive film that will repel bacteria pathogens from hospitals and public restrooms.
Patented by Sharklet Technologies, a Florida-based biotech company, the film, which is covered with microscopic diamond-shaped bumps, is the first "surface topography" proven to keep the bugs at bay. In tests in a California hospital, for three weeks the plastic sheeting's surface prevented dangerous microorganisms, such as E. coli and Staphylococcus A, from establishing colonies large enough to infect humans. Bacteria have an easier time spreading out on smooth surfaces, says CEO Joe Bagan: "We think they come across this surface and make an energy-based decision that this is not the right place to form a colony." Because it doesn't kill the bacteria, there's also little chance of the microbes evolving resistance to it. Hey, it's worked for sharks for 400 million years.
That's good news for hospitals, where infections from drug-resistant superbacteria like MRSA, a potentially fatal strain of staph, are becoming commonplace. Bagan hopes to stick the skin on nursing call buttons, bed rails, tray tables and other surfaces by next year. Pending FDA approval, the shark pattern could be manufactured directly onto bacteria hotbeds like catheters and water containers by 2012. First, though, look for Sharklet on high-touch surfaces like door handles in restaurant restrooms around the U.S. later this year—a welcome extra line of defense against those who forget to wash their hands.
Wow. That's a very fast and major change in the environment of hospitals.
"Patented by Sharklet Technologies"
It is patented by nature. All the money from the patent should go to shark protection.
@ finitesolutions Certainly a significant portion of their profits should go to shark protection.
"Bagan hopes to stick the skin on nursing call buttons, bed rails, tray tables and other surfaces by next year"
...and door knobs.
@finite & 25th. Are you guys serious? In that thinking, all aero industries should give all or some of there profits to bird or insect protection! How about all sport fishing industry giving all there profit to game fish protection. That would make Bass Pro Shop REAL happy, wouldn't it? Maybe DARPA should pay for whale, dolphin & bat protection for using sonar?
If I create a film with 3.0000000001 micrometer-wide diamond-shaped patterns do I have to pay pattern fees? Or if I use dried shark skin? ( a disaster )
It is good to know.
<<In that thinking, all aero industries should give all or some of their profits to bird or insect protection! How about all sport fishing industry giving all their profit to game fish protection. That would make Bass Pro Shop REAL happy, wouldn't it? Maybe DARPA should pay for whale, dolphin & bat protection for using sonar?>>
I've heard worse ideas... keep them coming!
my comment was in response to Photoprinter's.... Popsci got rid of my quote automatically...
Hey could you use this on boats too?
agreed franky. now why can't we do this more often?
This could be a real issue in the patent office. Shape, by itself, is hardly something that could lock into a traditional patent. In other words one patents a telephone by what it does not by the shape of the telephone.
This might open a door through which millions of designers seek patents.
Actually there are several types of patent, one being _Design Patents_. Design patents cover things like graphic design, appearance of an item etc.
For a really good example, check out this design patent from last year: www.google.com/patents?id=377KAAAAEBAJ&printsec=abstract&zoom=4&source=gbs_overview_r&cad=0#v=onepage&q&f=false covers urns in the form of talking dolls in which to store the remains of a cremated loved one. Now, THAT's a great application of technology, wouldn't you say?