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Photocatalysts Could Keep Devices Cleaner

Originally Published MDDI December 2004 NEWSTRENDS Photocatalysts Could Keep Devices Cleaner Erik Swain

Originally Published MDDI December 2004

NEWSTRENDS

Photocatalysts Could Keep Devices Cleaner

Erik Swain

Research into photocatalytic technology indicates that it might show promise for use in sterilization or decontamination of medical devices.

Tony Byrne, a professor at the University of Ulster (Jordanstown, Northern Ireland), told attendees at September's MEDTEC conference in Galway, Ireland, that applying titanium oxide nanoparticles to devices should remove organic pollutants. The nanoparticles also target proteins that sometimes remain on reused devices after reprocessing, he said.

Photocatalysis is the use of a catalyst to accelerate a photochemical process. Adding light and the catalyst to an organic material and oxygen produces water and carbon dioxide.

There are a number of photocatalysts. Titanium oxide has proven the best for practical use, Byrne said. It is insoluble at the pH levels encountered in the process. It is also photostable and photoactive. In addition, it is inexpensive and readily available. It has the proper band gap and can degrade a wide range of organic materials.

Most application research has focused on uses for water and air purification. But a self-cleaning glass product has just been commercialized, and scientists are looking for other ways to apply the technology, Byrne said. His primary reason for attending MEDTEC was to assess the device industry's interest in pursuing commercial applications.

Titanium oxide could be a fit for devices because it is nontoxic and resists corrosion, he said. He noted that it can kill a wide range of microorganisms. It does not require other chemicals for the process to begin. Only ultraviolet light is needed. The process can occur at ambient temperature and pressure. It can be switched on or off. And, he said, it could likely be incorporated into existing decontamination and disinfection regimes. Currently the University of Ulster has two research projects under way involving photocatalysts and medical devices.

“The first project indicates that we might be able to make smart catheter materials that can serve as an early warning system to detect microbial contamination,” Byrne said. This system, he said, could enable the development of smart implants that are prevented from causing infection.

Byrne said the second project could lead to the manufacturing of a self-cleaning instrument. He noted that it could be a technology for sterilization or decontamination of medical devices.

Copyright ©2004 Medical Device & Diagnostic Industry

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