Sharklet from Sharklet Technologies has diamond shaped micropatterns that inhibit bacterial growth without using antibiotics.

Benefits

  • Antibacterial
  • Non‑toxic
  • No antibiotic resistance

Applications

  • Medical devices & surfaces
  • Marine vehicles & surfaces

UN Sustainable Development Goals Addressed

  • Goal 3: Good Health & Wellbeing

The Challenge

Since the discovery of bacteria, conventional thinking has led people to kill microorganisms to control them. Yet, overuse and abuse of antibiotics, disinfectants and other strategies that focus solely on killing bacteria have contributed to the creation of superbugs commonly found in hospitals and the general population. As biocidal approaches have made bacteria stronger, new strategies are needed to manage bacterial growth while contributing to an overall healthy environment for humans.

Innovation Details

Sharklet® is a synthetic surface inspired by the skin of sharks that deters colonization by certain disease-causing microbes. Because the artificial surface works without killing microbes, there is no selection for resistance. The surface topography is made of millions of microscopic diamonds that disrupt the ability for bacteria to adhere, colonize, or develop into biofilms. The Sharklet pattern is manufactured onto adhesive-backed skins that may be applied to high-touch areas to reduce the transfer of bacteria among people.

Image: Sharklet / Copyright © ‑ All rights reserved

On the left is an image of a shark skin denticle. On the right is the Sharklet® micropattern. Note the similarities in design, including the diamond pattern and ordered feature lengths.

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Biomimicry Story

Objects submerged in water can become covered by unwanted films of bacteria or larger organisms such as algae and barnacles. This is referred to as biofouling. Sharks are unique in that they do not suffer from biofouling. Sharkskin has dermal denticles with evenly spaced ridges that inhibit bacteria or other organisms from attaching and growing.