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Sharklet, manufactured by Sharklet Technologies, is a plastic sheet product. Its surface is structured to impede bacterial growth. It is marketed for use in hospitals and other places with a relatively high potential for bacteria to spread and cause infections. Coating surfaces with Sharklet greatly reduces the growth of bacteria, due to the nano-scale texture of the product's surface.
The inspiration for Sharklet's texture was made by analyzing the texture of shark skin, which does not attract barnacles or other biofouling, unlike ship hulls and other smooth surfaces. The texture was found to also repel microbial activity.
Sharklet material was developed by Dr. Tony Brennan, material science and engineering professor at University of Florida while trying to improve antifouling technology for ships and submarines at Pearl Harbor.
Brennan realized that sharks do not experience fouling. He observed that shark skin denticles are arranged in a distinct diamond pattern with millions of tiny ribs. The width-to-height ratio of shark denticle riblets corresponded to his mathematical model for the texture of a material that would discourage microorganisms from settling. The first test performed showed an 85% reduction in green algae settlement compared to smooth surfaces.
Sharklet's texture is a combination of “ridge” and “ravine” at a micrometer scale.
Resistance to bacterium attachment
Sharklet's topography creates mechanical stress on settling bacterium, a phenomenon known as mechanotransduction. Nanoforce gradients caused by surface variations induces stress gradients within the lateral plane of the surface membrane of a settling microorganism during initial contact. This stress gradient disrupts normal cell functions, forcing the microorganism to provide energy to adjust its contact area on each topographical feature to equalize the stresses. This expenditure of energy is thermodynamically unfavorable to the settler, inducing it to search for a different surface to attach to. Sharklet is made, however, with the same material as other plastics.
- "'Inspired by Nature'". Sharklet Technologies Inc. 2010. Retrieved 6 June 2014.
- Alsever, Jennifer (2013-05-31). "Sharklet: A biotech startup fights germs with sharks". CNN.com Money.
- Schumacher, J. F.; Long, C. J.; Callow, M. E.; Finlay, J. A.; Callow, J. A.; Brennan, A. B. (2008). "Engineered Nanoforce Gradients for Inhibition of Settlement (Attachment) of Swimming Algal Spores". Langmuir. 24 (9): 4931. doi:10.1021/la703421v. PMID 18361532.
- Technologies Inspired by Sharks
- Srinivasan, Hari (March 26, 2015). "Armor-like shark skin may offer blueprint for defense against superbugs". PBS Newhour. Retrieved March 2015. Check date values in: