Novel Antimicrobial Plasma Deposited Films

  • Neil Poulter

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisPhD


Bacterial infection is a growing concern in hospital and community settings, where the issue of biofilms is a major problem. Most current methods of preventing microbial attachment and biofilm formation are limited due to application, process or inherent flaws. It was proposed that thin films containing an organometallic element could be deposited using plasma, a quick, clean surface modification technique; to create antimicrobial films which could then be applied to a range of substrates. Several novel antimicrobial monomer systems were synthesised and characterised based on silver, copper and zinc as the active constituent with phosphines, phosphites, maleimide and a novel Schiff base among the ligand systems. All monomers were found to greatly inhibit the growth of P. aeruginosa and S. aureus in solution and on solid media. Successful monomers were deposited onto suitable substrates (glass, gold, plastics, non-woven polypropylene) using continuous wave and pulse plasma, with the films characterised and low levels of active metal found in analysis using XPS and SIMS. Films were tested against solutions of pathogenic bacteria using a number of traditional and modern microbiological techniques and found to inhibit growth under a range of conditions, potentially due to the synergistic action of metal and ligand on bacterial cells. Effective control of bacteria was exhibited at times varying from 1h to 24h+. Highly volatile compounds were produced which allowed quick deposition of plasma films, which showed excellent activity against bacteria (99.9%+ growth reduction), indicating viability for potential application. All films tested showed no inhibition or toxicity to eukaryotic cells.
Date of Award1 Jan 2010
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Bath
SupervisorToby Jenkins (Supervisor)


  • thin film
  • zinc
  • Plasma
  • silver
  • antimicrobial

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