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Biomacromolecules. 2004 May-Jun;5(3):877-82.

Permanent, nonleaching antibacterial surfaces. 1. Synthesis by atom transfer radical polymerization.

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  • 1Department of Bioengineering, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15260, USA.


We have grown an antimicrobial polymer directly on the surfaces of glass and paper using atom transfer radical polymerization (ATRP). The method described here results in potentially permanent nonleaching antibacterial surfaces without the need to chemically graft the antimicrobial material to the substratum. The tertiary amine 2-(dimethylamino)ethyl methacrylate was polymerized directly onto Whatman #1 filter paper or glass slides via atom transfer radical polymerization. Following the polymerization, the tertiary amino groups were quaternized using an alkyl halide to produce a large concentration of quaternary ammonium groups on the polymer-modified surfaces. Incubating the modified materials with either Escherichia coli or Bacillus subtilis demonstrated that the modified surfaces had substantial antimicrobial capacity. The permanence of the antimicrobial activity was demonstrated through repeated use of a modified glass without significant loss of activity. Quaternary amines are believed to cause cell death by disrupting cell membranes allowing release of the intracellular contents. Atomic force microscopic imaging of cells on modified glass surfaces supports this hypothesis.

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