An Indian Patent on “Nanoparticle Embedded Polymer Film for Antibacterial Application’ developed by faculty and research scholars of the University of Hyderabad (UoH) has been approved by the Patent Office, Government of India and granted on 26 April 2018.
Ensuring safe drinking water, especially free from germs, has been a challenge in countries like India for a variety of reasons. Nanotechnology has enabled scientists to develop alternative technologies that can lead to processes for the generation of germ-free water. Bacteria are among the common contaminants of water. Coliform bacteria that pose severe problems as contaminants in water have always been regarded as indictors of bacterial contamination. Pioneering research of scientists at the UoH has led to the development of nanometric silver particle embedded polymer thin films with wide applications including bactericidal action. In a collaborative effort under the umbrella of the Centre for Nanotechnology, two senior faculty members have developed and tested the concept before filing the patent application. Incidentally both of them are fellows of the Indian National Science Academy (INSA), well-known for research contributions in their respective fields of research. Prof. T P Radhakrishnan (JC Bose National Fellow) from the School of Chemistry and Prof. Aparna Dutta Gupta from the School of Life Sciences at the UoH along with their students Dr. S. Porel (now scientist at the National Chemical Laboratory, Pune) and Mr. D. Ramakrishna have developed a simple and economically viable methodology for the fabrication of silver nanoparticle-embedded poly(vinyl alcohol) film that can be deployed in antibacterial applications. Highlights of this method include the use of aqueous medium for the fabrication process, deployment of the bio-compatible and bio-degradable polymer itself as the reducing agent, and mild thermal annealing for the in situ generation of the nanoparticles inside the polymer matrix which serves as the stabilizer as well.
The group filed their patent application for the methodology developed for the fabrication of silver nanoparticle-embedded polymer film that can be directly used in antibacterial applications. In addition, the researchers found that their bactericidal agent can be used efficiently and repeatedly in several action cycles, allowing simultaneously, its monitoring using spectroscopy and microscopy.
Antibacterial action of the film was examined using three types of tests on a coliform bacterium called Escherichia coli, and was proved to be effective at < 6 ppm concentration of silver. These antibacterial films can be employed efficiently and repeatedly for purification of drinking water and can be used in a domestic setting as a coating on stirring devices.