An Introduction to Inorganic Antimicrobial Coatings

Hospital door

You might not be able to see them, but germs are everywhere. Studies show that a typical desk surface contains over 10 million germs. Aside from cleaning surfaces, though, there are other ways to stop these microscopic invaders from spreading. Surfaces, for instance, can be finished with an inorganic antimicrobial coating. Inorganic antimicrobial coatings offer a safe and effective way to neutralize germs while subsequently promoting a higher level of sanitization.

What Are Inorganic Antimicrobial Coatings?

Inorganic antimicrobial coatings are germ-neutralizing finishes or layers consisting of an inorganic substance. They are designed to inhibit the reproduction ability of germs. Germs typically can’t reproduce or otherwise spread on surfaces that feature an inorganic antimicrobial coating.

There are different types of antimicrobial coatings. Antimicrobial coatings can be classified as either organic or inorganic depending on the substance of which they are comprised. Organic antimicrobial coatings are comprised of an organic substance. Inorganic antimicrobial coatings, on the other hand, are comprised of an inorganic substance. Both types serve the same purpose of neutralizing germs, but they are made of different substances.

Silver and Copper Inorganic Antimicrobial Coatings

Some of the most common types of inorganic antimicrobial coatings include silver and copper. Silver coatings generally contain silver zeolite, silver ions and a release mechanism. When applied to a surface, the combination of these substances will typically neutralize germs within three to four hours. The antimicrobial properties of silver aren’t fully understood. Some experts, though, theorize that silver is able to destroy the cells of germs from the inside out. Other experts theorize that silver interrupts germs’ DNA replication process.

Copper is another substance that’s used in some inorganic antimicrobial coatings. Like silver, copper is an organic material with natural antimicrobial properties. It’s believed that copper triggers oxidative stress within germs. When germs are exposed to copper, their cells will begin to break down due to oxidation.

Common Applications for Inorganic Antimicrobial Coatings

What are inorganic antimicrobial coatings used for exactly? Many medical devices feature an inorganic antimicrobial coating. In hospitals and other healthcare facilities, germs can prove problematic. People often visit hospitals and healthcare facilities to receive medical treatment for illnesses. Therefore, they spread germs at these places, or they may pick germs from other patients. To reduce the risk of transmission, hospitals and healthcare facilities often use devices that feature an inorganic antimicrobial coating. You can find inorganic antimicrobial coatings used in other applications, but they are particularly common in medical devices and equipment.