So maybe it isn’t the self-cleaning house that many of us look forward to one day – but a self-cleaning plastic isn’t bad. Especially when that plastic is being used in hospitals – in tubes and monitors, trays and implants – in an environment where germs are especially dangerous.
If you’re in the hospital, and you’re already sick, more germs is the last thing you want. And yet, bacteria are all over hospitals.
Enter plastics, with a twist. Two twists actually. One is coating plastic surfaces with the same special plastic that’s may already be on your smartphone screen (because it conducts electricity). The second is adding to that plastic a layer of tiny (nano-tiny) silver particles.
Doctors know that both silver and electricity kill bacteria. But use just one or the other, and you need a lot of silver, or a high dose of electricity – which is bad for people, as well as germs. The new discovery (by a team of Swedish scientists) – is that when you combine the two, a little silver and a low current have the same deadly effect on germs, and no effect on us. Except to help us stay healthier in the hospital, and go home sooner.